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AI and Machine Learning In SAP

AI and machine learning are changing the worldwide digital landscape. As the drive towards digital transformation across all forms of industry and commerce progresses, companies will be required to leverage all available forms of AI and machine learning in order to remain competitive.

There is a skills shortage in this area of business technology which means that companies often do not have the ability to implement AI in house. As a consequence they are turning to companies like SAP and their partners to provide them with AI and machine learning functionality in their business technology.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities can positively impact almost all aspects of business operations: particularly as a means of analysing the existing business processes and providing recommendations to improve efficiency. Also by guiding automation of those processes, leading ultimately to a more transparent business with a greatly reduced workload.

According to PwC’s Global Artificial Intelligence Study: Sizing the Prize, up to $15.7 trillion could be contributed to the global economy by AI by 2030.

This week we will explore this exciting area of SAP innovation and some of the implications of AI and machine learning for the future development of SAP, and the SAP consulting services market.

SAP Ranks 3rd Globally for Embedded AI

In a recent report analysts Omadia pointed out that AI will fundamentally change the SaaS market. They estimate the current impact of AI on this market as already generating a substantial portion of the total revenue.

“global SaaS revenues reached more than $200 billion in 2021, and 37% of that revenue (more than $78 billion) was SaaS revenue that included embedded AI. By the end of 2023, … 44% of SaaS revenues will consist of embedded AI.”

Omadia rank SAP as 3 of 30 involved in embedded AI, including SaaS companies and hyperscalers. SAP was ranked highly for the extent to which their AI strategy displays “vision, investment and patience” because this form of innovation as an emerging technology requires many years to produce a return on investment.

SAP was referred to in the report as a “generalist” along with players like Google, Microsoft, and IBM because they are embedding AI in a variety of software and services like e-commerce, CRM, HR and Accounting. In fact Omadia suggests that SAP has already embedded AI capabilities in products that contribute to more than 60% of their total SaaS revenues. By this measurement of investment in AI SAP ranks 2nd globally.

“SAP has been very strategic about where it is embedding AI. It leveraged it in some of its highest revenue-generating SaaS solutions, including SAP Fieldglass, SAP Concur, and SAP S/4 HANA Cloud, which collectively represented an estimated 62% of SAP cloud revenue in 2021. Other SAP SaaS solutions that feature AI include the SAP Customer Experience and SAP SuccessFactors.”

SAP AI Business Services

As well as embedding AI and machine learning in some of their core products, SAP has created “a range of strategic services and applications that automate and optimise corporate processes and enrich customer experience across the intelligent suite”.

These are accessible through the SAP Business Technology Platform.

SAP AI Business Services allow the user to analyse existing business data and automate manual and repetitive tasks. Employees are then able to work more creatively on value-added tasks and business strategy, improving the overall performance of the business.

This suite of AI services integrates out-of-the-box using simple APIs with other intelligent SAP products like Conversational AI, Intelligent Robotic Process Automation (iRPA), and Data Intelligence.

These AI powered services allow SAP customers to carry out intelligent automation of tasks like extracting business data from emails, classifying data records and highlighting missing data, or for sales processes: directing incoming messages or service tickets to the right agent while automatically providing solutions based on previous tickets.

SAP S/4HANA Cloud AI Functionality

Since the 1905 release of S/4HANA Cloud it has been possible to add up to one hundred AI and RPA capabilities, and customise apps.

These AI and RPA add-ons include: intelligent accruals management which automates purchase order data, defect code proposal for faster quality checks, and also automated collection, extraction, and validation of financial journal data from emails using iRPA.

Also, SAP HANA Cloud database now includes machine learning libraries: the Predictive Analysis Library (PAL), and the Automated Predictive Library (APL), which define a set of analytic algorithms for real time analysis and data mining.

AI for Business Processes

Other SAP AI capabilities embedded across the portfolio can be grouped according to business processes.

In the category of customer relationship management (CRM or CX), lead-to-cash processes are covered by the SAP Cash Application, which utilises AI for boosting marketing and sales pipelines and personalising the customer experience.

For manufacturing and product lifecycle management SAP solutions, AI is embedded in order to help with identifying, acquiring, designing, prototyping and decommissioning products or services

In the area of sourcing and procurement SAP AI enhances supply chain visibility: which improves activities like planning, spend management, contracting supplier payment, and collaboration.

For HR or HX management AI has been embedded to facilitate and improve processes like recruitment, employee career development, travel and expense management, and employee retention.

Training in AI and Machine Learning for SAP

If you are an SAP consultant looking to expand your skills with a more thorough understanding of AI and machine learning as it is applied in SAP solutions then a great place to start is the SAP Learning Journey entitled “Artificial Intelligence at SAP”.

All of the components of this Learning Journey are free to access through the openSAP learning platform.

Beginning with a module called “Getting Started with Data Science” participants of this Learning Journey are introduced to the basic concepts and skills involved in AI with SAP S/4HANA, using SAP AI Business Services, how to build chatbots with SAP Conversational AI, how to build bots with SAP iRPA, and machine learning and developer tutorials for AI technology.

AI Content in Courses in the SAP Training Shop

Once you have been introduced to AI and machine learning through the openSAP platform then you may consider some further training through the SAP Training Shop. As AI technology is being embedded across most of the SAP portfolio of products and services then it is best search for “Artificial Intelligence” and look at the course description for each to verify that each course you consider covers some AI content relevant to your interests.

More generally we can say that as the SaaS market becomes more saturated with AI and machine learning technology we can expect AI and ML content to be part of courses covering the core SAP products like S/4HANA Cloud and the Business Technology Platform.

Intelligent SAP Consultants

It almost goes without saying that if you are looking to augment your SAP skills to remain a high earning contributor to the SAP consulting market then it is important to at least remain up to date with developments in the area of SAP AI technology, if not specialise as an SAP AI consultant.

With the ever increasing degree of automation in ERP, along with the wider trend in the move to a cloud-based economy, the role of AI and machine learning will only become more central to SAP systems. As a consequence the skills gap which already exists will only get wider and deeper, and the earning potential for SAP AI specialists will rise dramatically.

If you are looking for a new role in the SAP ecosystem and would like to discuss how to make the most of your deeply valued skills then join us at IgniteSAP.