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SAP Leonardo – What is it and what we now know after Sapphire 2017

SAP Leonardo

I had the great opportunity to join SAP Sapphire this year and after a full week of catching up with friends, clients, and new customers I wanted to come back and share the knowledge I’ve learned about the SAP Leonardo announcement. For anyone attending Sapphire, it was hard to miss the marketing and branding of Leonardo.  “Leonardo is here!”, “Leonardo is connecting”, “The Leonardo Experience”, “Leonardo is Live!” etc…etc…

But as is normal with SAP terminology and super cool flashy experiences, it’s not always clear what the newest technologies announced at a major conference really “do”. And that’s where this blog comes in. I spent a great deal of time catching up with some SAP colleagues in the Digital Transformation space and here’s what I came away with.

What is Leonardo?

SAP Leonardo in its most simplistic form is SAP’s innovation platform. SAP S4/Hana (cloud or on-prem) is your ECC/Core system of record going forward and Leonardo will be the innovation platform that sits on top called your “System of Intelligence”. Most of the SAP Leonardo technologies and services exist today in the SAP Cloud Platform, however Leonardo is formalizing and grouping these technologies into tailored solutions for business scenarios.  This brings about formalization of a true bi-modal IT scenario which we here at Mindset have been talking about with customers for the past year.  Mode 1 is the Core ERP system and Mode 2 can be your quicker pace, faster to market innovation platform to deliver new functionalities and uses of technology without the strict requirements and compliance of a longer term Mode 1 go-live.

SAP Leonardo – What are the technologies?

  • Machine Learning – Whether using deep learning, supervised learning, or unsupervised learning techniques, this technology uses complex algorithms to mine data to learn patterns for predictive use.  A quick example of this is the use of machine learning to match images taken by a customer to a product catalog.  For more use cases around how Machine learning is taking off in corporations, check out this HBR article:
  • Blockchain – Currently being explored today by SAP for secure transfer of assets via a large chain of systems.  This technology is the keystone for cryptocurrencies of the future.  Blockchain is much like a ledger of all digital transactions that have occurred.  These transactions appear in a chain with the earliest one first keeping a chronological record since transactions began.
  • Data Intelligence – Along with machine learning, data intelligence drives decision making abilities from Big Data.  The big data in the context of this SAP service included in Leonardo is anonymized data from large networks.  An example of this could be publically available historical weather records.  
  • Big Data – You need somewhere to store all of this data.  SAP’s big data Leonardo service focuses on how to structure, store, and analyze all of this data in one place.  
  • Internet of Things – Beacons and Sensor data have uses in almost every business environments.  Beacons to locate products in the retail space, Water sensors in soil in the farming industry, sensors in vests/watches in the Mining Industry for safety, and many many more.  SAP uses the Cloud Platform to enable multiple types of IoT devices to connect to your SAP system.  The SAP Cloud Platform IoT service allows you to start capturing sensor data from all types of 3rd party devices.  The acquisition of Cloud Foundry makes this an even more interesting topic for integrating devices and API types. 
  • Analytics – The analytics area of SAP Leonardo includes 3 main pillars. Business Intelligence, Predictive Analytics, and Enterprise Performance Management (EPM).  Each of these it really it’s own technology with its own roadmap.  See the analytics page on SAP to learn more about each of these 3.
  • Design Thinking –  SAP has been offering design thinking services for years now, however this is the first time it’s been part of an overall offering.  Under the guise of Leonardo, design thinking will be used at the forefront of any Leonardo innovation project to make sure the real end users are getting exactly what they need not just because it is new and cool, but because it actually saves time and increases productivity.

SAP Leonardo

Why is Leonardo important to businesses?

Two words.  Digital Transformation.  Yes, it’s a little bit of another buzzword, but it’s something we here at Mindset have been very focused on in the past year.  We see this innovation platform (based around SAP Cloud Platform) as the way to create new functionality to solve business problems in a very agile fashion.  By not getting bogged down in an ECC and/or S4 transactional system of record where we need to go through validated change control procedures to add new functionality, we can thrive in this innovation platform to solve big problems quickly.  SAP has started this already for us with their Leonardo industry accelerators.  This includes:  Retail, Discrete Manufacturing, Consumer Products, Sports and Entertainment with more on the way.  Each of these has flavors and usage of all the Leonardo technologies mentioned above.  

Mindset = Leonardo

Take a look at our current service offerings in the graphic below.  It was almost surprising to us during the Leonardo Sapphire announcement that this very closely matches our current service offerings.  We’ve already built innovative products and solutions based around the mentioned technologies.  IoT, Machine Learning, Voice Control, iOS SDK native apps, the list goes on.  We will continue to be an SAP partner of choice for all things SAP Cloud Platform, Design Thinking, UX, Fiori, Agile related and SAP Leonardo can make all of us better in getting customers to the next level of digital business.


Were you at Sapphire this year?  Tell me what you thought of the SAP Leonardo Experience in the comments below!  Stay tuned for more detailed blogs on the Technologies that make up Leonardo.


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As VP of Products at Mindset Consulting, Jon focuses on how organizations can quickly and easily maximize their SAP investments for improved results and happier employee, customer, and user experiences. A known industry thought he is a highly sought-after industry speaker and resource.

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