AI And SAP: Human Versus Machine
Artificial Intelligence Blog

AI And SAP: Human Versus Machine

SAP is dreaming about great success with its AI solutions, but its perspective and insights are misleading or even plain wrong. Rarely has an IT company embarrassed itself as much as SAP with AI.

The members of SAP’s executive board like to talk about artificial intelligence (AI) – but apparently know nothing about it. In 2018, CFO Luka Mucic tried to ease SAP customers’ worries about AI in an interview with a German magazine. He said that because of SAP’s responsibility to customers, it would make all algorithms of its machine learning solutions public.

While this is a nice sentiment, it poses the question: Which algorithms? Long short-term memory algorithms of neuronal machine/deep learning networks? Their intricacies have been known since long short-term memory was invented by Sepp Hochreiter and Juergen Schmidhuber 20 years ago.

Or did Luka Mucic mean the results of self-learning neuronal networks? The results are spectacular, like Google showed with Go two years ago. However, the connections inside the neuronal networks, the algorithms that Luka Mucic might mean, are still a mystery to us – no human is able to explain why Google’s Go computer plays like it does and why it always wins.

Will SAP be left behind?

Leonardo is SAP’s attempt to catch up to IBM’s Watson or Microsoft’s Azure, but it will not succeed in making machine learning one of its core competencies.

To steer Leonardo and S/4 with Hana in the direction of intelligent enterprise, SAP will need the help and support of Microsoft, Nvidia, IBM, Google and the open source community. Otherwise, SAP will be left behind in the field of AI and ML.

SAP CoPilot

Digital assistant SAP CoPilot will enable customers to contact customer support directly from their application. Support inquiries of customers will be analyzed using AI and other chat functionalities. Framework Leonardo is supposed to provide machine learning and intent matching functionalities.

CoPilot first processes the informal text of the support request and then offers customers individual support based on existing information and data about business history and context.

SAP CoPilot is one way in which SAP could catch up with its competitors.

AI collaboration

SAP did not invent AI, but it still has the chance of catching up with competitors by collaborating with companies who actually know what they are doing.

Most SAP customers know that they can generate value with machine learning. However, many don’t know that data protection is a tricky topic concerning machine learning and AI.

Even German chancellor Angela Merkel explained, “To think that Germany can be the frontrunner in AI but be as restrictive on data as we are right now is like trying to milk unfed cows – it won’t work.”

E-3 Magazine June 2018 (German)

About the author

Peter M. Färbinger, Editor-in-Chief

Peter M. Färbinger is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at E-3 Magazine, AG, Munich, Germany. He can be reached at

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