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SAP and ESA on Big Data from Space

October 21, 2016 by Stephan Magura

SAP recently “docked up” with the European Space Agency (ESA) at the inaugural SAP Digital Leaders’ Summit and took their budding strategic partnership toward a new frontier.

This month, more than 40 executives from established companies and startups attended the SAP Digital Leaders’ Summit at ESA’s European Space Operations Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany. They heard about how the increasing significance of digital platforms for applications of all kinds. Coupled with ballooning volumes of data being generated by ESA satellites, it is the basis for a compelling constellation in which ESA delivers Big Data for SAP HANA to turn into “smart data” – providing actionable insight for specific decision-making situations.

By way of example, SAP demonstrated how SAP could feed SAP HANA Cloud Platform with real-time ESA Earth observation data. Insurance companies can use this data to foresee and control the impact of potential storm damage claims on their profits. Thus, if weather forecasters predict a hurricane on the east coast of the U.S., insurance companies would use the Climate Earth Dashboard – based on SAP Digital Boardroom – to run various scenarios and assess the scale of the possible financial risks involved.

Recalling the name of the German government’s high-tech strategy project Industrie 4.0, ESOC manager Juan Miró referred in his keynote to the commercialization of his industry sector as “Space 4.0.” Though as a publicly funded space agency, he said, ESA is not looking to make a quick buck but to tap into the synergies that cooperations offer.

Population growth and climate change are making heavy demands on our planet, explained Miró. If humankind wants any chance of mitigating the dire threats it faces, it needs innovations – which in turn require forward-thinking technologies. In this light, and bearing in mind that ESA is obliged to work chiefly with European partners, collaboration with SAP is a logical step.

Concepts for the Digital World

You can achieve more by working together, and the partnership between ESA and SAP includes joint startup initiatives. In Darmstadt, selected young talents presented some clever business ideas as the winners of the ESA grant programs “App Camps” and “Copernicus Master” came together with teams from the SAP HANA Startup Focus program.

Many of the aspiring entrepreneurs were concerned with the digitalization of the agricultural landscape. Not surprisingly, said Professor Volker Liebig, former ESA director of Earth Observation, in his address, when you consider that there will soon be 9 billion mouths to feed worldwide.

And indeed, digital farming is one of the new business segments that SAP is focusing on. The possibility of linking satellite data with business-specific requirements is creating a host of new market opportunities in areas such as urban development, traffic planning, and disaster protection, to name just a few. And metropolises around the world are avidly looking for ways to transform urban centers into smart cities with the help of high-tech applications.

“Smart data is the golden nugget of the digital age,” said SAP’s Carsten Linz. As head of the SAP Center for Digital Leadership, which initiated and is driving SAP’s partnership with ESA, he describes the cooperation between the two as an important step on the road to building a digital ecosystem and creating new jobs in the high-tech sector.

Ahead lies the task of navigating entire sectors of industry through the digital transformation. Expectations on the part of the companies and institutions aiming to enter the digital economy are high, and meeting them will involve a cast of thousands.

SAP is both ready and willing to lead the way.

Top image via Shutterstock

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