New Technologies To Look Out For at SAP Sapphire Barcelona 2023 – Innovation Evangelism
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New Technologies To Look Out For at SAP Sapphire Barcelona 2023 – Innovation Evangelism

Heading off to SAP Sapphire in Barcelona this week? Here are some technologies you may want to take a look at, based on the SAP Sapphire Orlando Innovation Keynote last week, and you can watch the replay yourself here.

Thomas Saueressig, head of SAP Product Engineering, and CTO Juergen Mueller presented a series of short demos helped by two “young talent” employees, Lucy Alexander and Sangeetha Jayakumar.

Sustainability solutions

SAP’s wide range of sustainability solutions were highlighted by Thomas and Juergen. One new innovation is the introduction of the green ledger for carbon accounting as part of the cloud ERP offerings RISE with SAP and GROW with SAP. It enables customers to truly measure their carbon footprints by moving from average carbon emissions to actuals. “We all know that to get to a low-carbon future, you need end-to-end transparency and visibility across the entire supply chain,” Thomas said.

SAP Business Network helps turn those fragmented supply chains into collaborative sustainable networks, and there was a glimpse of an interface letting companies see sustainability of the entire supply chain, with information from partner EcoVadis.

Surfing through the supply chain

The launch of SAP Business Network for Industries at SAP Sapphire is also a key part of the company’s strategy. “We are working on many industry-specific data networks, like Catena-X and Manufacturing-X,” said Thomas. “But all of these networks are only possible if processes and data are seamlessly integrated.”

Picking up the theme, Juergen said that integration enables completely new possibilities such as synchronized planning, which is a closed loop between planning and execution. It is also automated and network-aware.

“Our extended planning and analytics solutions span across financial planning, workforce planning, and demand planning,” Juergen explained. This allows SAP customers to see the impact of their decisions across all their lines of business, as well as planning more holistically.

Powerful integrated, predictive planning

SAP Datasphere

To help companies extract and harmonize data from their SAP and non-SAP systems, SAP recently introduced SAP Datasphere.

“With SAP Datasphere, you can create a data model consuming data from different sources like SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP BW/4HANA, and non-SAP data sources like Google, BigQuery, and others,” Sangeetha explained during her demo. She added that SAP Datasphere has a great graphical modeling feature, helping to quickly create a data model with simple drag-and-drop functionality, which can then be visualized in a dashboard in SAP Analytics Cloud.

A simple SAP Datasphere model, showing how a single view can be created across multiple data sources, and then leveraged in SAP Analytics Cloud 

Thomas cited SAP Datasphere as an example of how SAP is opening up more than ever, which is why SAP has seen the partnerships announced in this area, including Databricks, DataRobot, Collibra, and Confluent, and now Google Cloud. “We truly believe in the democratization of data,” he said.

Business AI examples

Juergen noted that SAP has also recently announced AI partnerships with Aleph Alpha, IBM, and Microsoft. “But our key differentiator for you is how we use those technologies and embed these AI capabilities to reimagine business processes across all SAP solutions,” he said.

“There’s no doubt SAP is an AI company and SAP AI is built into our systems that power your business,” Thomas added. As of today, SAP has delivered more than 130 embedded use cases of AI.

For example, SAP Concur processed 40 million invoices automatically last year and generated savings of more than $366 million for customers. Now, generative AI is coming on top and will have widespread implications for a myriad of functions such as job descriptions, interview questions, product descriptions, and queries for analytics. SAP is already working on more than 80 use cases for generative AI.

SAP Digital Assistant chat interface

SAP is differentiating in the AI sphere, because its models are trained on years of business data, and also responsible and trustworthy, Thomas said.

After demonstrating with Lucy and Sangeetha how AI and natural language processing might be integrated into SAP Analytics, Thomas predicted that AI “will be infused everywhere and enable totally new capabilities in our products.”

Intuitive natural language queries with the new AskData functionality embedded into SAP Analytics Cloud

There was also a view into the future of analytics with a prototype of “continuous intelligence” — where the system tells you what’s interesting or different about the data, automatically. You can find out more at the SAP Innovation Center Network

Continuous intelligence, where the system tells you what you should be looking at, automatically

Juergen then demonstrated a prototype that uses generative AI for development of SAP Business Technology Platform extensions. Currently, he noted, many SAP customers use standardized APIs to build future-proof extensions. “But imagine this,” he told the audience. “What if instead of coding myself, I could simply describe what I want, and SAP will take care of it? Wouldn’t that be cool? And we are actually making this a reality with generative AI.”

A prototype interface showing automatic creation of BTP extensions leveraging GPT technology

But the power of AI actually goes far beyond efficiency, according to Thomas, who suggested we could also use AI to reshape the experience between humans and machines: “It’s a duet, not a duel.”

Next the team showed off the easy interfaces for business people with SAP Start — including the ability to do authorizations using an Apple Watch!

The new SAP Start interface gives business people everything they need with a consistent, intuitive interface

You can even accept authorizations etc on your Apple Watch!

And there are new opportunities for collaboration within SAP applications leveraging Microsoft Teams

Collaboration directly within SAP, leveraging Microsoft Teams (far right)

Automating business processes

The keynote also included the new opportunities to improve and automate business processes using SAP Signavio solutions, integrated with SAP Build and SAP Integration Suite.

Using the tools together helps get closer to the dream of “automating automation” — “SAP enables enterprise automation because we know that you are under a lot of pressure when it comes to efficiency in your organizations and with that you can continuously identify and improve processes,” Juergen said.

And a huge library of content is already available from SAP and partners, for example the SAP Business Accelerator Hub site at api.sap.com

And finally there was a quick introduction to  SAP Business Technology Platform and a demonstration of SAP Build. The executives explained the critical role SAP BTP plays in RISE with SAP and GROW with SAP, helping customers keep their code clean but still be able to extend their business processes and benefit from all the goodness and updates and innovation SAP releases as part of our standard applications.