Inside Leonardo, SAP’s revitalised tech platform

Inside Leonardo, SAP’s revitalised tech platform

Software giant completely relaunches Leonardo platform to include AI, machine learning, analytics, blockchain and IoT

Bill McDermott (SAP)

Bill McDermott (SAP)

Credit: SAP

Then at the more bespoke level customers can either invite SAP on site or visit a global design centre, the first five are in New York, Paris, Bangalore, Sao Leopoldo and Singapore, with seven more to be added soon, in: Silicon Valley, Berlin, Moscow, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo.

Visitors are then offered a day of "design thinking" sessions meant to identify the key use cases customers want to bring Leonardo to, and ending with a working prototype using SAP's Build tool. SAP then provides access to this prototype for employees to offer immediate feedback.

In 2018 SAP also announced that it had doubled the number of solutions available to customers under the new SAP Leonardo Partner Medallion Initiative.

“The SAP Leonardo Partner Medallion initiative expands the number of solutions and teams available to organisations seeking to innovate with SAP-certified technology from a global network of trusted providers,” the vendor stated in a press release.

“It is designed for system integrators and technology providers, and includes both global and regional organisations to serve SAP customers worldwide.”

The initial members of the programme include Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte, EY, HCL, Hitachi Consulting, Mindtree’s SAP practice Bluefin, PWC and Wipro, to name just a few.

Early solutions from the initiative include scenarios for connected shelves and inventories for retailers, derailment prevention for railway operators, and cold chain logistics for pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and medical device industries.

Case study: BASF

One example of a company working with SAP to solve a problem using the Leonardo model is German chemicals giant BASF, which built an email routing bot using Leonardo Machine Learning capabilities.

Speaking to Computerworld UK during Sapphire in 2018, Pedro Miguel Ahlers, digital growth manager at BASF’s performance chemicals division explained: "We went with a problem and working through design thinking, so understanding what the problem we have is and talking openly and then designing a potential solution."

The problem BASF wanted to solve was the way incoming customer request emails were routed, saving employees time forwarding misrouted emails to the right people in the organisation.

So BASF spent five months prototyping a machine learning-powered solution called CuRT (customer request tracking) before spending ten weeks on implementation, going live on March 1.

Now CuRT is routing 2,200 emails a week - that could be a pricing request or a complaint, for example - for BASF’s performance chemicals division, and is expanding rapidly into new geographies at the company.


When asked how Leonardo can stand out in a crowded market, with rival vendors like IBM Watson and Microsoft Azure offering cognitive services, head of products and innovation at SAP Bernd Leukert said in 2017: “I agree there are a tonne of platforms out in the market, but these platforms are living in a silo.

“So by opening up our core system, they can access any physical asset data, HR data, any information they have built up over the years within their ERP system, and connect this with sensor data and even marry this with external market data.

"So if you then want to get intelligence and insight into it, other companies use machine learning to push that information into a dedicated other system, we will call it batch processing, getting insight and then throwing it back.

"We are working with APIs to have real-time connectivity into the execution system and we offer that over 25 industries. I am not aware of any company on the planet that can offer that connectivity and that comprehensiveness.”

So Leonardo sounds like it will be competing with the Microsoft Azure cloud platform or IBM Watson, in that customers can pick and choose which cloud-based technology it wants to leverage to solve a business problem.

Rather than something more packaged like Salesforce Einstein, which is baked into its software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications to make suggestions and surface insights for users.

SAP already does this within its cloud applications, like smart CV matching in Fieldglass or automated service ticketing in Hybris Cloud, but in a less obviously branded way.

As a side note, SAP has taken a partnership approach to developing machine learning capabilities, instead of doing it all in-house. It uses Google open-source project TensorFlow for its machine learning algorithms and Nvidia for the hardware to train these algorithms.


Naturally pricing for a product like Leonardo will be pretty bespoke as it comprises of various cloud software components, bundled together with services like the design thinking process.

According to SAP’s Anand, “Customers will not have to assemble pieces and parts to solve a business problem. We will use included services that tailor predefined software elements for the specific customer implementation.

"Everything will come at a predefined price and our engagement is time-bound, so every customer has an accelerated time-to-value."

Anand has also said that the more packaged solutions will come at "a fixed price within a fixed time period”.

When asked what this pricing will look like now that SAP has released its first batch of industry innovation kits Anand said: “We worked really hard on this because we had a lot of feedback from several customers wanting to consume these pre-integrated capabilities it is really important for us to simplify the licensing model, the contract and the pricing, so that is a key differentiator for us as well.”

“So it is one contract, one single price and very easy to transact and make it the right subscription model,” she added.

This article originally appeared on Computerworld UK.

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Tags softwareSAPInternet of Thingsmachine learningBlockchainLeonardo

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