SAP Launches ‘Joule’ Generative AI Copilot For Its Enterprise Applications

The software developer giant will embed the new generative AI assistant within its operational applications and Business Technology Platform, rolling out the new capabilities through this year and into 2024.


SAP unveiled a new generative AI copilot Tuesday, a new offering the software giant will embed throughout the company’s enterprise cloud application portfolio to improve user productivity and drive better business outcomes.

The copilot, named Joule, will be built into SAP’s HR, finance, supply chain, procurement and customer experience applications, as well as within the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) that provides underlying functionality for SAP applications including data management and analytics, AI, application development, automation and integration.

SAP said the Joule copilot “builds on and enhances” SAP AI Business Services, AI models within BTP that are pre-trained on business-relevant data, automate and optimize business processes and add intelligence to SAP applications, according to the company.

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“With almost 300 million enterprise users around the world working regularly with cloud solutions from SAP, Joule has the power to redefine the way businesses – and the people who power them – work,” SAP CEO Christian Klein said in a statement. “Joule draws on SAP’s unique position at the nexus of business and technology and builds on our relevant, reliable, responsible approach to Business AI. Joule will know what you mean, not just what you say.”

This year has seen a wave of IT vendors developing generative AI copilots that help users more easily work with their software products. Microsoft, a backer of ChatGPT developer OpenAI, has been especially active in developing copilot technology for its Microsoft 365 personal productivity applications, Power BI data analytics platform, and Dynamics 365 business applications, among others.

SAP said more than 26,000 cloud customers currently have access to SAP Business AI across multiple scenarios and partner solutions.

SAP’s AI development efforts also include investments in AI startups: In July the company announced investments in Aleph Alpha, Anthropic and Cohere.

With Joule, users will be able to ask a question or frame a problem in plain language and the copilot will provide “proactive and contextualized insights” by drawing on data across the SAP portfolio and third-party sources, according to the SAP announcement. By quickly sorting through and contextualizing data from multiple systems, the copilot technology can “surface smarter insights” and help people “get work done faster and drive better business outcomes in a secure, compliant way.”

Joule, for example, can provide a manufacturer with sales performance insights by connecting sales and supply chain data that may reveal supply chain issues that hinder regional sales performance. In HR the copilot can write unbiased job descriptions and generate relevant candidate interview questions, the company said.

“We are a tech company, but our job is to build amazing business outcomes and let the technology disappear, because customers want a fantastic business outcome through a business application. That’s what we’re here for,” said Philipp Herzig, SAP senior vice president and head of cross product engineering & experience, during an online press conference to introduce Joule.

Joule, named for the unit of work or energy, will first be available with the SAP SuccessFactors applications and the SAP Start site later this year, followed by availability for the SAP S/4HANA Cloud application set, public edition, in early 2024. That will be followed by availability for SAP Customer Experience and SAP Ariba applications, along with the Business Technology Platform.

SAP will provide additional updates on Joule at a number of upcoming events including SuccessConnect next week, the SAP Customer Experience LIVE event in late October and SAP TechEd in November.

While SAP offers its software for on-premises, hosted and cloud deployments, the company has recently generated some controversy by saying it will provide many of its latest technology innovations, including in such areas as AI and sustainability, only in its cloud software.

During the press conference Thomas Saueressig, member of the SAP Executive Board for SAP Product Engineering, said the customer experience provided by Joule “is only possible in the cloud” because it utilizes various technologies, data sources and large language models, and because cloud is the best way to deliver continuous innovation around AI.

In a recent interview with CRN, Karl Fahrbach, SAP chief partner officer, also emphasized the company’s emphasis on cloud applications for quickly delivering new innovations to customers.

“We want to make sure that we put the investments where we believe it’s going to be the best platform for the customers to grow, to realize value and to get the best out of this innovation,” he said. “This is why we’re putting all these innovations like AI capabilities, like the Green Ledger [sustainability solution] that we launched recently, in the cloud.”

And he said that’s why SAP partners should be focused on providing cloud services to clients, “because that’s going to be the best for the customers and, obviously, the best for the partners as well. That’s what the future is.”