SAP Leonardo – From a great concept to actual Business Innovation
The Forbes 2018 CEO outlook states that 91% of CEOs are pursuing technology-driven business growth. This creates a rising pressure among CIOs and CXOs to invest into emerging technologies, which is a challenging task considering the quantity of competing technologies, solutions and start-ups in the market. SAP has been recognizing this fast-growing challenge for IT leaders and is offering guidance in form of the SAP Leonardo concept. In my role at the SAP partner Neptune Software I get the opportunity to discuss digital transformation strategies and challenges every day. The insecurity we are constantly facing in those meetings motivated me to get to the bottom of SAP Leonardo and the reality of this promising concept. Let’s find out the What, Why, and How, of the SAP Leonardo concept and if it will or will not add value to your business.
What is SAP Leonardo?
SAP Leonardo is an umbrella brand for SAP’s collection of software and services that organizations can use to develop digital transformation projects. According to SAP this provides organizations with the ability to develop new business models and capabilities, and to also add new technologies as they emerge.
If you dig deeper and start to talk to SAP representatives about the concrete offering, the SAP Leonardo Services is made up of five (5) areas: Explore, Re-Imagine, Create, Validate, and Scale & Transform. These services are supposed to couple business and technology perspectives with established and emerging technologies to deliver some sort of solution prototype, independent of your industry or line of business. Okay, so what does that all mean? Is SAP offering a modernized approach on consulting services? Or is there more to this?
Why SAP Leonardo?
So, there is a services side to the concept. It makes sense, there’s insecurity among decision-makers, ergo SAP is providing guidance from ideation to readiness for deployment. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and check the VP Product Marketing of SAP, Dan Lahl’s take on Leonardo.
In his SAP HANA Blog from February 2018, he begins his chain of arguments by describing Machine Learning, Blockchain, and IoT as ‘must-haves’ for the enterprise. Therefore, SAP Leonardo was created to provide a “digital innovation system to supercharge the enterprise software stack with the tools of digital transformation – coupled with a design thinking process specifically created for business modernization and agility.”
Alright, so there’s the consulting (or design thinking) side to this, but SAP Leonardo is also providing a collection of intelligent technology services to supercharge your systems of record, according to SAP. But where do we get those technology services and how do I build a Leonardo solution?
How to create value with SAP Leonardo?
Scenario: I am the CIO of an SAP customer and would like to explore if a Blockchain solution will improve my order-to-cash processes which are currently supercharged by an S/4HANA on-premise ERP. The current state of enterprise-grade Blockchain platforms has me leaning toward connecting Hyperledger for general B2B purposes and Ethereum for smart-contracting with cross-industry business partners.
According to Dan Lahl, the SAP Cloud Platform is the foundation of SAP Leonardo and offers platform capabilities such as Machine Learning, IoT, Big Data, Advanced Analytics and Blockchain. But it turns out, the technical services provided on the platform are not solutions, but connectors to integrate emerging technologies from third-parties. This means that in order to integrate Ethereum smart-contracts, I am creating microservices on top of the SAP Cloud Platform (which most-likely runs on AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud) to access open API services which then connect to the RESTful APIs of the solutions we in fact want to leverage to pursue our technology-driven business growth. But SAP’s chain of arguments ends with the big promise to solve the most fundamental problem with innovation – getting distracted by details.
Dan Lahl is arguing that instead of forcing companies to find, integrate, and manage their own tools, SAP Leonardo takes care of everything. A team of diverse thinkers, innovators and industry experts focused on business impact will bring intelligence to your business by establishing the SAP Cloud Platform at your company, create microservices, connect to intelligent technology using the SAP API Business Hub, obtain data and analyze the outcome based on SAP Big Data services and the SAP Data Hub and scale your solution with the help of the hyperscalers Amazon, Microsoft, Google, or Alibaba.
The truth is that innovation is never easy and requires deep expertise in technology as well as innovators and industry experts focusing on your individual business impact – preferably from a portfolio of companies and vendors, instead of a team of SAP employees focusing on SAP Cloud Platform only.
For companies to succeed, smaller more agile partners and their solutions are key. The age of blindly following large system integrators acting in their own interest will soon be over, with more and more companies turning towards more agile platforms like the Neptune DX Platform running in the cloud of choice and on-premise, fueled by containerized virtualization and truly open thanks to a pure API first strategy.
SAP Leonardo is a concept to steer companies into the SAP Cloud Platform, claiming that it will provide you with easy integration of emerging technologies to speed up your digital transformation. The idea of SAP Leonardo to provide a structured but agile pathway towards emerging technologies is a great one but beware of a concept that is not open to giving you the platform and solutions that best supports your specific Leonardo journey needs, but rather the journey they want you on.
About the Author
Managing Director at Neptune Software Germany
Christoph is part of the interface between development and sales at Neptune Software. His team assists partners and customers from their first demo to implementation, to onboarding and expert training workshops. This experience gives Christoph a unique perspective to strongly support all Fiori development projects based on the Neptune DX platform.
There is almost no question he cannot answer, or problems staying unsolved – just give it a try.
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