With the advent of ChatGPT, there has been much discussion about the creation of automated algorithms on demand. For beginner programs like “Hello World”, this could even work in Abap. This makes it conceivable that an AI Language Model could focus on business knowledge and steampunk (Embedded Abap on the SAP BTP) and thus program the R/3 and S/4 successor T/5. Is this nothing but a pipe dream? But if SAP now acquires Aleph Alpha, an AI-generated T/5 Hana could see the light of day in the ERP world in a few years.
SAP T/5 by Aleph Alpha
Aleph Alpha, based in Heidelberg, Germany, shows that it is possible to create language models for semantic tasks in limited subject areas with even less effort. An AI language model could create an ERP ontology for the R/3 and S/4 successor T/5 and possibly also program it with Abap.
SAP persistently refuses to discuss an S/4 successor, which is very awkward. In the ERP world, planning reliability is the most important asset. An S/4 that will run until 2040 is an adequate insurance policy, but for proper ERP planning, SAP’s customer needs parameters that extend into the middle of the century. No one will commit SAP to bits and bytes in this regard but, similar to other industries, ERP users need a possible roadmap. SAP’s refusal to think about the future of ERP and to outline visions seems petty and fearful.
ERP crystal ball
Predictions are difficult. No customer is going to ask SAP for an ERP blueprint for 2050. But there is a lack of discourse on future ERP architectures. SAP’s desire for all existing customers to hand over their licenses and move to the cloud is not enough. Users, providers, analysts, journalists; none of them have an ERP crystal ball. In the field of computer science and mathematics, a good deal of experimentation goes on at universities and in laboratories; an ERP discourse could be developed on the basis of these findings.
ERP Language Model
The results of OpenAI and Aleph Alpha do not yet provide concrete answers, but they offer perspectives on how future IT systems might work. A business language model could perhaps take the ERP world to a higher level. SAP possibly taking over Aleph Alpha would not only be interesting in this regard, but also strategic. It would put SAP at the center of a discourse on the future of business management informatics, and would avoid a rather unpleasant discussion on infrastructure such as private and public cloud.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts: with BTP, Fiori, Datasphere and Steampunk, SAP has interesting techniques that, in combination with AI and ML (machine learning), could lead to a new quality of ERP. An AI Language Model from Aleph Alpha could soon be able to present SAP’s customers with a new ERP ontology. SAP itself should seize the opportunity and commence the discourse.
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