SAP introduces its IoT portfolio - is Leonardo a big step forward or rather a big hype?

To answer the question right away – this announcement is neither a big step nor a big hype, it is a logical evolution of what we saw SAP doing in 2016. After the acquisition of the Plat.One IoT platform in the 2nd half of 2016, the announcement of the SAP Leonardo Innovation Portfolio demonstrates the integration of SAP’s existing IoT capabilities with the acquired Plat.One portfolio – no more, no less.

Along with its announcements around the new brand and technology, SAP has expressed its commitment to €2bn investments in IoT in order to build the largest global ecosystem in this respect. Part of this investment will be directed towards IoT labs around the world.

SAP intends to develop end-to-end solutions (applications, platforms, data management), including edge computing. So what does the new portfolio look like?

SAP Leonardo Bridge

Source: SAP, 2017

Under the new brand, Leonardo, SAP launched several building blocks of its new IoT portfolio (combined with Plat.One solutions):

  • SAP HANA Platform is the underlying foundation of the Leonardo portfolio and provides real-time intelligence capabilities (based on in-memory technology) for the whole SAP IoT portfolio.
  • SAP Leonardo Foundation is at the center of the Leonardo portfolio and is basically the Plat.One IoT platform, which provides device integration, connectivity & device management, data management and application development. It clearly shows that until now an IoT platform had been the missing link (between devices and application) within SAP’s IoT capabilities – so this has been fixed now. It is interesting to see that SAP avoids the “IoT platform” branding in its IoT portfolio. Siemens, too, avoids this term and prefers to call MindSphere an IoT operating system. So we expect this game to go on with more providers of IoT platforms becoming creative with their branding.
  • SAP Leonardo Edge is another building block in SAP’s IoT portfolio from Plat.One. It focuses on edge processing (analytics, machine learning and streaming) of device data and enables real-time capabilities by avoiding cloud latency.
  • SAP Leonardo Bridge covers the application integration capabilities of SAP. This portfolio element underpins SAP’s strong focus to integrate IoT applications with all kinds of SAP enterprise application (like ERP) to allow for the exchange of data from the device level up to the business processes.
  • SAP IoT Applications contain several basic IoT solutions, such as asset intelligence, predictive maintenance or track & trace, which can be used by system integrators as building blocks to develop client-specific IoT applications on top of it.

Beside the portfolio, one of the biggest advantages of SAP is its broad ecosystem. SAP maintains strong partnerships with strong IT players such as the top providers of professional services/ systems integration (e.g. Accenture, T-Systems, Atos, IBM etc.) and with the big industrial players, such as Bosch, GE and Siemens. This is a very important asset in the IoT space.

SAP also puts a very pragmatic implementation strategy forward called SAP Leonardo Jump-Start Program. Thus it allows its customers and partners to experience the new solutions with a limited investment and in a short period of time (three months).

So the overall structure of the integrated SAP & Plat.One IoT portfolio is visible now and there are no real surprises how this all fits together. However, it will be more interesting to see how SAP will go forward in 2017 and how it will enhance the now existing IoT core portfolio with more IoT applications. We expect SAP to build and acquire some more IoT applications, but the proof point for success in the IoT space will really be how strongly the SAP ecosystem leverages Leonardo in building solutions on it for its clients. The technology is ready to go, now it is up to the ecosystem to use it.