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Big Data and Machine Learning Tools Flag Fake News and Build Trust and Transparency

To be successful, companies must operate with complete transparency and gain the trust of employees and customers alike. But with fake news running rampant, it can be difficult to sift through the noise and get to the facts.

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Should We Regulate “Dangerous” AI Now or Wait?

Artificial intelligence has greatly improved business processes and while many experts see its benefits, some are concerned about potential risks it could create. Around the world, business experts are beginning to discuss the considerations around regulating artificial intelligence.

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SAPPHIRE NOW 2018, Day 3: How SAP Technologies Are Improving People’s Lives

While machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robotics technologies have certainly been lauded for the time savings and productivity gains they can bring to the digital business world, often overlooked is what these technologies can do for people in a humanitarian sense.

This was not the case during the closing keynote at SAPPHIRE NOW 2018, which focused on how these technologies can be used to help change people’s lives for the better. On stage first was Adaire Fox-Martin, President of SAP’s business in Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Greater China, who reminded everyone that while today’s digital economy is faster than ever, it will never be this slow again. As a result, “customers are putting data and intelligence at the very center of their future,” she says. “And these companies have an edge because they continue to improve their processes with data and intelligence while their competitors try to play catch up.” (To read an interview with Adaire Fox-Martin, click here.)

To highlight one of these innovative companies, SAP invited to the stage Michael Voegele, CIO of longtime SAP customer Adidas. After first addressing the common mistake most Americans make when pronouncing the company’s name — the correct pronunciation is “AH-dee-dahs” (not “Ah-DEE-dus”) — Voegele went on to describe how Adidas is improving its customer experience through a “Here to Create” campaign and a digital strategy that is bringing the business closer to its consumers. “Sports has the power to change lives, and digital technology is an enabler to help us achieve that goal,” he says. “To change people’s lives, you have to build direct relationships with customers and create bidirectional conversations and collaborations.”

Adidas is actively inviting consumers to participate in the manufacturing process through its Storefactory concept, which involves a storefront where customers receive body scans and then help to create their own personalized apparel. The business also opened its first US-based Speedfactory, a manufacturing facility that heavily relies on robotics and can quickly adapt to trends as they change, which can be every few weeks in the sneaker business. The biggest hit for Adidas customers, according to Voegele, is the improvement in daily inventory accuracy for its hundreds of millions of products, thanks to SAP Customer Activity Repository. “Today, we know where each single piece of product in their colors and sizes sit in the supply chain, in the distribution centers, in our stores, with wholesale partners around the world,” he says. “We have full transparency down to every detail of our product, and that is helping us to fulfill those customer expectations, drive that experience, and drive productivity in the supply chain.”

Next to take the stage was Jennifer Morgan, President of SAP’s business in the Americas and Asia Pacific Japan, who was joined by Jeff Lyons, Costco’s Senior Vice President of Fresh Foods. Amid an enterprise-wide system modernization at Costco, Lyons identified a business need in the company’s fresh foods division, which includes the meat, produce, food court, and bakery departments. For a business that guarantees the freshest quality of goods by not letting product sit on shelves — for example, rotisserie chickens have a shelf life of two hours and pizza only one hour — technologies that improve inventory management and offer predictive analytics are crucial to success, which for Costco means being in stock for every item for every customer.

To improve sustainability, reduce waste, and abandon manual inventory processes, Costco turned to SAP Leonardo products and tested the technology in the bakery department as a pilot project. “We didn’t want to spend hours producing things that didn’t sell,” says Lyons. “So we plugged in seven years of sales data and redeemable coupons that drive sales, and then layered on weather and other event data [such as sporting events] to determine when sales pick up or slow down.” With more accurate information, the bakery department has seen production improvements of 2%-3%, drastically reducing labor hours and items that go to waste. The pilot was rolled out at one bakery in San Jose, California, and due to its success, is scheduled to roll out to over 500 bakeries in the US. Additional future uses for SAP Leonardo have already been identified, such as in the produce department. “We sell over a billion items in produce,” Lyons says. “For us to get it right and not waste is critical.” Important to note is that “waste” for Costco does not mean product ends up in the trash, as the business provides daily food donations through its partnership with Feeding America, which works with local food banks to provide meals to those in need. According to its website, in 2017 alone, Costco donated more than 8.5 million pounds of food in 42 US states.

In line with charitable efforts to feed the hungry, the final guests for the keynote included SAP CEO Bill McDermott and 2018 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jon Bon Jovi, who for over a decade has also been the CEO of a non-profit called JBJ Soul Foundation that focuses on the issues of hunger and homelessness. The foundation, which SAP supports, began in 2005 building homes (with over 600 units constructed to date) and now also operates two JBJ Soul Kitchen locations in New Jersey. These restaurants are advertised as “community dining with dignity,” where meals made from locally sourced ingredients are served with cloth napkins and real silverware. “There are no prices, no government funding,” Bon Jovi says. “If you can afford to pay, you do, and the people in need are empowered by volunteering.” Adding to these inspiring sentiments, McDermott shared his opinion that one of the most precious things people can do is to appreciate one another as equals and celebrate differences to make cultures, teams, and life itself worth living. “My passion in life is to do and see things in a way no one has ever done it before — to do something positive for other people and for the world,” he said.

The general crux of this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW event — the intersection of people, technology, and efforts to make the current and future world a better place — was summed up perfectly by Bon Jovi. “The greatest gift the next generation could give is to inspire to inspire,” he said. “They are teaching us through technology that the world is a different book today, and I’m excited to see what they will bring us tomorrow.”




SAPPHIRE NOW 2018, Day 2: SAP Co-Founder Hasso Plattner Charts a Course for the Intelligent Enterprise

Hasso Plattner, SAP Co-Founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board, kicked off the second day of SAPPHIRE NOW with a keynote presentation on the meaning of the Intelligent Enterprise. “The Intelligent Enterprise is not a marketing story thriving on buzzwords,” Plattner cautioned. “It’s a logical consequence of what is possible today using modern technology and enterprise applications.”

It is the consequence, Plattner outlined, of SAP HANA helping organizations move beyond performance limitations and SAP S/4HANA delivering a digital core that enables the core ingredients of the Intelligent Enterprise: a digital-age user experience (UX), enhanced automation, and next-generation digital processes. “We are out of the woods with regards to performance [where we can now] achieve a completely different flexibility,” Plattner said. “We are better prepared to react to changes, and changes are about to come.”

But to entice customers to buy into SAP’s strategic direction for unprecedented flexibility and agility in the cloud as an intelligent enterprise, SAP first had to make some internal changes to streamline a history of heterogeneous systems. These internal changes included aligning lines of business and the heads of various business units, with internal branding and unification under SAP C/4HANA as one of the foundational efforts of what it means to be an Intelligent Enterprise. In short, this means internal integration plans focused on simplifying everything for the customer. “SAP has to be as agile as a start-up. If we want to be intelligent, we have to react quickly,” Plattner explained.

An internal rebranding and a clear product roadmap, Plattner said, was vital to easing customer confusion and helping customers plot their own journey to enterprise intelligence. More and more, Plattner said, this means an SAP S/4HANA Cloud deployment, as it is no longer sustainable to wait for release updates because of the rapidly shrinking innovation cycle. A digital core with SAP S/4HANA allows for the transformation of data on the fly, a key ingredient for connecting to emerging technologies such as machine learning and AI, which are also important components for what it means to become an Intelligent Enterprise. This also means that organizations must become accustomed to enhancing applications without touching the application — that is, building no-touch extensions with SAP Cloud Platform. “In the future, we don’t want to move data between applications. We want to access data at its origin,” Plattner said. “This is a simplification; no data transport means less data management and most importantly no risk.”

Plattner highlighted many of the capabilities brought by simplified data management with the SAP Data Management suite, such as text/search, spatial/graph, data anonymization, and data pipelines. These capabilities, in turn, can result in a digital-age UX and a “hands-free ERP,” enhanced automation assessed at perhaps a 50% increase over the next three years, and next-generation processes that embed technologies such as machine learning that can learn from past actions of human participants in a system.

SAP CTO Bjoern Goerke joined Plattner to discuss how SAP Cloud Platform is the optimal extension platform for any SAP application and a key component of the intelligent enterprise, serving as a conduit to achieving greater speed and precision — speed not just in terms of execution, but in terms of applying changes to rapidly changing market demands.

Goerke also made several announcements concerning SAP Cloud Platform: It is now generally available on Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure, a private edition in partnership with IBM and slated for highly regulated industries is now in development, and a new commercial model — the SAP Cloud Platform commercial agreement — allows consumption-based usage and pricing on a single contract.

Mala Anand, President and EVP of SAP Leonardo and Data & Analytics at SAP, helped close the keynote with an update on SAP Leonardo, showcasing several customers who have created better outcomes and reaped unprecedented value from data by embracing the emerging systems of intelligence. “We’ve had an incredible first year with SAP Leonardo,” Anand said. She highlighted the three ways a customer can consume SAP Leonardo: embedded intelligence from the latest releases of SAP’s flagship products, through industry innovation kits for faster innovation than even the latest releases can provide, and through open innovation.

The message from the Day 2 keynote was clear: Spurred by SAP S/4HANA and the digital core in the cloud, innovation is now only limited by imagination. With SAP, any organization that wishes to become a truly Intelligent Enterprise has all the tools it needs at its disposal.




Discover the Ease of Using SAP Solution Manager’s Scout IMG Configuration Comparison Functionality

See how to use Customizing Scout, which is part of SAP Solution Manager’s Customizing Synchronization suite. This functionality enables you to compare functional IMG configuration between two systems. These systems must be connected in Solution Manager and should be configured with the necessary authorizations. It is useful especially when manual activity is involved in a comparison of the synchronization, distribution of configuration, and master data differences between two systems.

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SAP CEO Bill McDermott Kicks Off SAPPHIRE NOW 2018 by Announcing SAP C/4HANA

SAP CEO Bill McDermott kicked off his SAPPHIRE NOW 2018 keynote discussing a simple, yet significant concept: The biggest problems the world faces also represent the biggest opportunities. Whether it’s feeding a growing population, managing a changing environment, or eliminating bias in the workforce, McDermott stated that these problems are best solved by businesses that are focused first and foremost on their customers.

This is the motivation behind SAP C/4HANA, SAP’s customer-focused CRM platform, which is seeking to upend an industry that McDermott said has been too wrapped up in treating customers like sales opportunities. “We have moved from a 360-degree view of sales automation to a 360-degree view of the customer,” said McDermott in announcing the suite, which comprises five SAP cloud applications, including technology acquired from Gigya, Hybris, and CallidusCloud, and is based on established SAP technologies such as SAP HANA, SAP Cloud Platform, and SAP Leonardo.

The company’s renewed focus on CRM stems from conversations that McDermott himself has been having with C-level executives the world over. “We are all engaged in a customer-driven revolution,” said McDermott. To keep up with this revolution, leaders want a single view of the customer — but very few have it. SAP plans to provide just that with SAP C/4HANA, which is built around the concept of the in-memory power of SAP HANA driving data in real time throughout the organization and into an “intelligent suite” in SAP S/4HANA, and then integrating that data into what the company is calling its fourth-generation customer experience suite.

Demos of SAP C/4HANA showed real-time examples of connecting the demand chain and supply chain, analyzing customer data, and addressing machine repair with predictive maintenance. One notable technology shown was SAP Inscribe, which took commands for reporting and analysis via digital notetaking on a tablet, adjusting on the fly depending on the user’s wishes for data.

SAP positioned itself as the only company prepared to take on the challenge of developing a trusted single view of the customer. Its ERP capabilities allow it to touch 77% of the world’s transactions, generating $19 trillion in customer business. And with its acquisitions and commitment to the cloud, plus its investment in emerging intelligent technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things, SAP indicated that the whole would represent something greater than the sum of the parts. 

These new intelligent technologies earned considerable focus from McDermott, who relayed a conversation he had with Garry Kasparov, famous for having taken on machines in high-level chess play. While much is made of a tension caused among humans when considering how machines will upend and transform the workforce, Kasparov posed an interesting question to McDermott: Instead of thinking about machines as competitors, what if they were instead viewed as collaborators — in other words, how might his chess matches have changed if he was able to play with the machines rather than against them?

In McDermott’s estimation, this carries over to business. Rather than machines taking the place of humans and devastating the economy, SAP’s research indicates that artificial intelligence and related technologies should contribute $16 trillion to the global economy by 2030. “Don’t let anxiety detract from opportunity,” said McDermott. From SAP’s perspective, what is driving that opportunity — and yielding significant return — is the embedding of SAP Leonardo technologies, powered by the in-memory data crunching of SAP HANA, into ERP business processes. 

Given the emphasis on customer satisfaction, it’s no surprise that SAP’s own customers were front and center. Videos and interviews involving doTERRA and ATB Financial helped tell SAP’s story of the intelligent suite empowering improved customer satisfaction. (For more information, visit SAPinsider’s case studies on doTERRA and ATB Financial.) And comments from Bernd Leukert, SAP’s head of products and innovation, and Rob Enslin, the president of SAP’s cloud business group, who spent time on stage demoing some of the key features of SAP C/4HANA, underscored that many of the company’s efforts are driven by its desire to help customers succeed. 

“Our greatest validation is our customers’ success,” said McDermott.  




Managing Data with SAP Solutions – SAP HANA and Non-HANA Use Cases

See some examples of integration solutions based on SAP-provided replication tools that you can use to integrate SAP and non-SAP applications. The tools support a wide variety of data types (structured and unstructured) and formats (including data streams).

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Optimize Your Manufacturing Plant by Implementing an MES for Shop Floor Data Collection and Automatic Data Transfer to SAP ECC

Learn how to connect a manufacturing execution system (MES) to SAP ERP Central Component (SAP ECC). Understand common use cases and best practices during the implementation. Learn integration options, avoid common pitfalls, and get help planning a multi-plant system rollout. View corresponding SAP transactions that allow you to review and troubleshoot MES data

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MEET THE EXPERTS

Sasa Mitrovic
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Sasa Mitrovic is founder and principal consultant at Summit Global Associates, Ltd. Sasa (pronounced “Sa-sha”) is a supply chain and manufacturing executive with extensive global experience in all phases of the SAP implementation life cycle. With more than 10 years of dedicated project experience, he is seasoned in enabling clients to reach decisions and implement SAP solutions that fit their businesses. Sasa has consulted in aerospace, defense, heavy machinery, consumer product, and life science industries. Summit Global is based in the United States.



How to Successfully Run SAP S4/HANA on Linux

Q&A with Dolphin Experts on Crafting a Successful Information Management Strategy

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