SAP Sapphire Attempts to Unlock the Digital Transformation DaVinci Code
By Adrian Bowles
(Aragon Research) – In January, SAP introduced “Leonardo” as a branding umbrella for its growing portfolio of Internet of Things (IoT) services. With the HANA brand firmly established in the enterprise, it made sense to create a separate identity for the IoT offerings in which SAP expects to invest $2.2B over the next four years. A strong brand to differentiate the firm in a hot market is a good idea – if it is applied consistently. So far, that is not the case.
A Toolbox for Digital Transformation
SAP is re-positioning Leonardo as a collection of tools and technologies to provide “The Path to Digital Innovation” as a digital transformation catalyst/enabler. That’s a big promise, but once you get past the confused message and occasional misguided AI claims (like the video claiming that an IoT-enabled toaster “thinks”), it does make sense for SAP and for business-driven digital strategists. SAP has a strong and growing portfolio of products and services in each of these areas, which work together and also complement SAP’s core offerings to support business transformation.
SAP Demos the Business Impact of IoT
A series of live demos reinforced the transformation toolbox concept, and showed how SAP is approaching the business sale rather than the technical sale for these capabilities. Two demos stand out in this regard. The first was a tool rental company that used sensors to IoT-enable its inventory, and analytics to monitor the actual usage of tools when they were in the field with renters. The presenter used a drill with a masonry bit to put a hole in concrete on stage while showing the data being generated by the drill and analyzed by software. The practical demonstration made it easy to see how the business model could be changed to incorporate actual usage and wear in addition to the opportunity cost of having the drill unavailable to other customers. A similar demo with instrumented tools was used to show the safety impact of being able to see who handled which tools and where they were at any given time. From compliance to efficiency, the business impact of integrating IoT and machine learning was brought home effectively.
The other memorable demo that reinforced the business impact of integrating these technologies was the Digital Twin example. An interactive “digital twin” is a model or virtual replica of a physical asset that can be analyzed and manipulated remotely using VR technology. Their example was remote management and maintenance of an IoT-enabled wind farm for cost and safety reasons. Watching a demo that used VR and voice technologies to drill down into failing components – and to create “virtual sensors” on the fly – was more effective than any of the canned messages displayed and conveyed throughout the event
Spending More on UX Versus Marketing: A Recipe for Success?
Hasso Plattner, the co-founder and elder statesman of SAP, gave a more subdued keynote than McDermott (although, with AC/DCs Thunderstruck in his soundtrack, it was still quite energetic). After joking about the relevance of SAP ads on televised hockey (Plattner is the majority owner of the San Jose Sharks), he made a serious point about the need to spend more on the UX and perhaps less on marketing. He’s right – if the new Leonardo can be presented consistently with a business friendly look and feel, it should be a big hit for SAP.
However, if SAP keeps changing the message or muddying it with specious claims about thinking toasters, it will get lost in the increasingly competitive digital transformation market.