The system is a set of technologies – machine learning, block chain, data intelligence, big data, IoT (connected sensors and IoT apps) and analytics that runs on top of the SAP Cloud. In a separate set of announcements, the company talked about how the SAP Cloud Platform can run on IaaS services from the likes of Microsoft’s Azure, Amazon’s AWS and Google Cloud. These efforts will support SAP’s Leonardo system running on the customer’s cloud of choice. Leonardo leverages design thinking methodology to help companies design new capabilities and business models to deliver a digital transformation. The company has also built a series of accelerators to retail, consumer packaged goods, manufacturing, sports and entertainment to eliminate the gap between connecting data to applications.
Leonardo’s power is in the integration of multiple disparate tools to create an IoT solution that supports 50-85% of a company’s needs. Unlike most solutions, it spans from the sensor to the application. I’m avoiding the word platform because the IoT market is riddled with platforms. According to IoT Analytics, there are over 360 solutions with varying functionality that are called IoT platforms today. Additionally, Leonardo isn’t a product SKU, it’s a set of individual SAP products that can be combined and integrated with other solutions. Yet, I applaud SAP for trying to wrangle the various components together in a cloud-based framework that allows companies to effectively scope and link IoT data with applications that run the business.
The concept of Leonardo is good, but what makes Leonardo compelling also makes it challenging. As noted earlier, the obstacle with any IoT solutions is that a company must pick a use case, define critical components and then select the right Leonardo components for the job. Sadly, this step can’t be skipped by the customer, but SAP hopes design thinking will aid this process.
While I’m not suggesting everyone should buy a solution from a single vendor, companies should consider the cost of integrating and maintaining a broad range of point solutions from various suppliers. Announcements like Leonardo highlight how a company can leverage their existing strategic vendor as an IoT integration partner for part of the IoT stack. Even if the customer uses a bulk of the SAP offering, the technology team will still need to integrate products from other vendors. To further these efforts, large vendors are partnering to deliver IoT ecosystem as well. The ability to integrate more of the IoT stack faster will help businesses accelerate their initial IoT deployments and see faster time to value. SAP’s Leonardo suite demonstrates how IoT solutions have matured to a place where companies move beyond POCs to actual deployments that deliver actionable insights.