On January 10, 2017, SAP announced a bundling of their IoT portfolio of initiatives to focus on business outcomes instead of technology while combining the set of emerging products and solutions under the brand name Leonardo – as in Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the most forward looking artists and innovators ever. This announcement substantiates SAPs commitment to invest two billion Euro in IoT over the next 5 years.
The new portfolio will combine adaptive applications, big data and connectivity as packaged line-of-business solutions, covering a range of topics. It bases upon a rebranded – and repackaged(?) HANA Cloud Platform, enhanced by the micro services for machine learning that were announced earlier and which I covered here. This enhanced platform is now called SAP Cloud Platform.
As per a blog post accompanying the Leonardo announcement, the high level architecture of SAPs new offering looks like below and covers, besides a set of existing applications
- an IoT adapter – SAP Leonardo for Edge Computing – which serves as a device independent data input layer, essentially a kind of middleware, probably built on or using HCI.
- a foundational layer – SAP Leonardo Foundation – which includes the IoT business services that are to be exposed, enabling rapid development of applications. This makes up the functional core.
- and a ‘bus’ layer – SAP Leonardo Bridge – which enables the combination of real time data with applications and processes
Leonardo is accompanied by a jump-start enablement program to accompany this initiative. This program includes introductory pricing and is intended to help organizations identify and validate IoT pilots and use cases, including expert staffing and using design thinking methodologies, thus easing the first IoT steps. Of course there will be a launch event to bring together customers, partners, and experts, showcasing innovations and strategies.
According to Tanja Rueckert, EVP Digital Assets and IoT SAP with Leonardo connects “things with business processes […] and with people”.
This was long overdue.
Overdue not only from SAP, but from any and every vendor. IoT is a means, not an end!
As Brent Leary very recently said in a podcast with SearchCRM, IoT is still trying to make its way to provide value for businesses. This is imho due to the IoT market being vendor- and technology driven. SAP now takes the lead in tightly integrating technology into business process, and to show a clear path to business value. This fits neatly into the core of SAPs overall value proposition as an enterprise software company and it nicely combines numerous technologies and services that have been developed by SAP in the past years into a holistic piece that can deliver business value. I see this mainly as a rebranding instead of something net new, although there are some new pieces to this solution portfolio. This is also a bit of a concern. SAP now needs to keep up the momentum and deliver new intelligent, IoT based business solutions.
What is interesting is the (important) combination of IoT and machine learning, which is mentioned only in the blog post, and which has the potential to make a real difference, e.g., when it comes to distributed intelligence.
As a final word of caution, SAP only announced introductory promotional pricing. This means that there are still important open questions about pricing overall, which should be a worry for customers.
However, overall this is good news for customers, as with this portfolio of services and technology every IoT investment can be tied to a business case and then business value. I expect that other big vendors
SAP clearly takes a thought leadership position here, if not a technology leadership position.