SAP Unveils Enterprise Apps for IoT

The analytics, manufacturing and logistics solutions are part of several announcements from the software vendor focused on the Internet of things.

knowledge workers

SAP is rolling out a set of applications designed to enable businesses to take advantage of the massive amounts of data being collected by sensors, part of a larger push around the Internet of things the software vendor is making at its annual SAP TechEd event in Berlin.

The new Internet of things (IoT) applications—which focus on maintenance, logistics and manufacturing—will be available in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) environment that will run on SAP's Hana Cloud platform. SAP has long had software that could collect data around predictive maintenance and logistics, according to David Parker, global vice president for big data and IoT at the software vendor.

However, these new apps cover an expanded number of sources of the data—including a broad array of sensors, machine-to-machine traffic and wearable devices—offer more extensive analytics on a wide range of data, and can help bring these analytic and application processing capabilities out to many of the devices themselves, Parker told eWEEK.

In separate announcements that touch on the IoT, SAP officials at the three-day show Nov. 11 said that the company was teaming up with Volkswagen and Shell to create a joint innovation pilot program that will evaluate how connected cars interact with their surrounding environments and develop hosted, cloud-based services for these automobiles.

In addition, SAP and Samsung said they will work together to provide enterprise solutions that will leverage SAP software on Samsung-built devices, including smartphones and wearable systems.

The Internet of things is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years as more devices and systems—from home appliances, cars, tablets and smartphones to industrial systems, oil pipelines, sensors and health care systems—gain more intelligence, connect to the Web and communicate with each other. The expected numbers vary—Cisco Systems officials said the number of connected devices in 2020 will reach 50 billion, while Gartner analysts put it at 25 billion—but most agree the ramp will be significant. Cisco officials say the financial promises to businesses worldwide from the IoT could reach $19 trillion by the end of the decade.

For businesses, the vast amounts of data generated by all these systems, devices and sensors are what hold the most value from the IoT. The faster they can analyze the data and pull useful information out of it, the quicker they can make business decisions based on it.

The industry has been talking about the IoT for the past two to three years, but it's been over the last 12 months that the promise of the Internet of things has begun to be realized, according to Parker. SAP's new applications illustrate that trend.

The SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service application is designed to bring operations and analytics onto a single platform to better derive information from the data that is being collected. The application assesses both historical and sensor data that will help users better predict problems with systems before they happen. The Connected Logistics application lets users monitor traffic and enable better communications, as well as integrated back-end transportation management systems, according to SAP officials. SAP began building a prototype of the application in 2011 and 2012, and partnered with the Hamburg Port Authority to test it, Parker said. The partnership with such a busy port as Hamburg let SAP officials know that the application could handle environments with rapid growth, he said.

The Connected Manufacturing app is designed to bring IoT capabilities to manufacturing operations, linking manufacturing systems from multiple sites through the Hana Cloud platform. Customers can use predictive analytics in the app to drive down costs and increase system utilization.

Regarding the connected car effort with Volkswagen and Shell, the three companies will work to develop services, including a system related to connected fueling. Officials with the three companies said they expect the pilot program to be the taking-off point for further joint work around connected cars.

The partnership between Samsung and SAP will help the vendors expand mobile enterprise solutions based on the SAP Mobile Platform on Samsung devices, including wearables. The companies also want to encourage Web and mobile developers to build products on top of the Samung and SAP solution.

The vendors will first focus on solutions for particular verticals, including retail, health care, oil and gas and finance.