SAP Bets Big On IoT Platform Expansion, Takes Aim At Digital Transformation Applications

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SAP unveiled an expanded version of its Leonard Internet of Things (IoT) system on Tuesday, pulling additional machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data analytics and blockchain technologies into the product.

As the new SAP Leonardo: Digital Innovation System was unveiled before some 30,000 attendees at the Sapphire Now conference in Orlando, SAP executives said the vendor is integrating the IoT system's capabilities with other SAP applications.

The company also took steps toward building an ecosystem around Leonardo by announcing new services for partners and developers to build custom applications that run on the Leonardo platform.

[Related: SAP Eyes Accelerated Cloud ERP Software Sales Through The Channel]

"This is the biggest move our company has made since SAP HANA," CEO Bill McDermott said Tuesday morning in his Sapphire keynote speech, referring to the in-memory database that has become the core of the company's product strategy.

When asked in a later press conference about Leonardo's potential, McDermott said: "I believe in the next 10 years this can be bigger than the SAP you're talking to today."

With the announcement, SAP elevated the Leonardo system beyond an IoT platform to become the linchpin of the software company's digital business innovation strategy.

"Your companies are actually now in the midst of re-inventing their business models," McDermott said during his keynote of the need for a system like Leonardo. During the press conference, he said SAP Leonardo would be the vendor's  "overarching theme for digital business."

A key element of the expanded Leonardo portfolio is SAP Leonardo Machine Learning, a new toolset for embedding machine learning capabilities into applications, and a new set of machine learning enabled applications for corporate functions such as invoicing and customer service.

Also new is the SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain service for building applications and application extensions using distributed ledger technology. New big data, analytics and data intelligence capabilities round out the enhancements.

During the press conference Bernd Leukert, the member of SAP's executive board who oversees products and innovations, acknowledged that "there are a ton of [IoT] platforms on the market." But he said those platforms operate in silos whereas Leonardo has connections to SAP applications, giving it the ability to draw on application data and execute through operational applications.

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