Leonardo da Vinci is the perfect synonym for the new direction the SAP community is heading in. [shutterstock: 27948671, Janaka Dharmasena]
SAP's ERP empire has a new north: SAP Leonardo. This is intelligent and visionary in more than one way. For the digital transformation in the SAP community, there is no better synonym than Leonardo Da Vinci - the exceptional polymath.
Whether the digital transformation will ever end is uncertain and far from being decided. It already started, however: If you want to compare digital transformation to a multi-course menu, right now we are enjoying the amuse gueule and just tasted the first sip of champagne.
Indeed, there is reason to celebrate! For the first time, we may be witnessing a technological evolution that is not dictated, controlled and concluded by technicians alone.
Digital transformation not only includes technologies like blockchain, IoT, Deep Learning, cloud computing and predictive maintenance, but also the development of new business processes. The evolutionary and revolutionary business process re-engineering and change management are experiencing a renaissance.
The invention and implementation of steam engines or electrical light must have been a similar experience – in the sense that the technology is not only fascinating and revolutionary, but it also massively impacts processes in the economy and in businesses.
Today, predictive maintenance is not achieved through better algorithms or higher statistics based on well-known processes, but through a completely new way of thinking and analysis of challenges.
By the way, it is for this exact reason that SAP’s Leonardo tool box includes design thinking, which was promoted and popularized by Hasso Plattner.
Predictive maintenance through AI
On the topic of predictive maintenance, here’s an example out of the business world: experienced service technicians hear the sounds of CNC machines and can correctly predict if a gearbox damage exists or if one will very likely occur. Now, experienced service technicians are not easy to find, and younger technicians should also get the chance to prove themselves.
Knowledge and experience can be transferred into a neuronal network. Through Machine Learning, an analytical process is created which evaluates sounds recorded by a smartphone in an AI cloud from Google, Amazon and Microsoft. The result of the CNC sound analysis is a maintenance recommendation.
Could this become more than a nice gimmick? CNC machines are not isolated IT islands, but receive their processing steps from a back-office where the instructions for the machine tools are located. Through these connections, the service technician could also inquire the condition of the CNC machine.
On the one hand, however, to do that, he would need an IT authorization for the local network of his customers which would immediately entail IP, compliance and governance challenges. The acoustic interfaces, on the other hand, are ‘compliance safe‘ and therefore stress-free in use for all parties involved.
Artificial Intelligence vs. Homo Ludens
Predictive maintenance is based on AI technology. Why is that? Cambridge Consulting, located near the English university city Cambridge, knows the answer. Similar to the acoustic predictive maintenance, they have developed an application that can decide in real time whether a piece of music is to be classified as classical music, ragtime, jazz or pop. The acoustic input is transformed into a text message. Numerous programmers with musicial knowledge worked nearly three months on this algorithm.
Simultaneously, a neuronal network was created (Deep Learning with a recurrent neural and deep convolutional network). After a learning phase of about two weeks, this neuronal network recognized significantly more pieces of music than the manually programmed algorithm. Therefore, Artificial Intelligence beats Homo Ludens. In this case and many others, Machine and Deep Learning will be used instead of human workers because AI is more efficient and cheaper.
What about SAP Leonardo?
With Leonardo, SAP is heading in the right direction, albeit without an own core competence. Well, the direction is right, but other IT companies are already further ahead and way more experienced with typical ‘Leonardo topics‘.
For example, Cambridge Consulting has created the neuronal network for music recognition together with Nvidia. In light of this information, it is good to know that SAP is cooperating with Nvidia as well regarding Leonardo and Machine and Deep Learning.
Leonardo therefore includes all areas of digital transformation. In all those areas, SAP is actively trying to get ahead, but in all those areas it is beat by specialists who are further ahead then SAP itself. SAP cooperates with a lot of these experts on Blockchain, IoT, AI and cloud. To tackle the challenge of digital transformation, it is inevitable that SAP looks beyond its own company and embraces collaboration.