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Realizing Real-Time Operation Command with SAP Leonardo IoT Bridge

Feature Article | July 11, 2017 by Sijesh Manohar Hot Story

A few of years back, when leading the development of a new supply chain visibility product at SAP Labs, I was invited by one of our pre-sales colleagues to present the solution to one of our potential customers.

The customer is a reputed multinational brand and after the presentation, one of the senior managers said, “Well, what you have here is great, and is a like a da Vinci painting for us. We will need to significantly clean up our house to put this up. We are dealing with a lot of unpredictable issues with our supply chain every day.”

In plain language, we got the point — the solution is a “nice to have,” they have other problems with bigger priorities to solve before they adopt the product that I was pitching. During the presentation, a gentleman, Mr. X, from the customer side excused himself several times to take phone calls and toward the end of the presentation he had stepped out not to return to my presentation. Later I found out that he was one of the supply chain managers and he was dealing with a delayed delivery truck and coordinating with his associates to resolve the problem.

How I wish, on that day we had SAP Leonardo IoT Bridge with our Frontrunner Reference Scenario – Outbound Logistics to offer to Mr. X.

The basic tenet of SAP Leonardo IoT Bridge is to offer pre-configured work environments for operations professionals, based on their areas of responsibility, by bringing IoT data together with business data from underlying enterprise applications. The unique value of SAP Leonardo IoT Bridge is in tying IoT and business process data together to provide intelligent business context and real-time visibility across the value chain.

A key feature of SAP Leonardo IoT Bridge is the ability to identify unexpected and unplanned events from IoT applications, present it contextually to the operations users and provide them with decision support, including information on trade-offs against service level agreements, cost, and other relevant factors. It also allows users to plan follow-on actions in the underlying enterprise applications by triggering a service API.

What does this mean for Mr. X?  With the advent of new IoT applications, the number of sensory systems being put in place by businesses is quite unbelievable. From heart monitoring devices on cattle in the dairy businesses to more smart machines predicting unplanned downtimes in the manufacturing businesses, these intelligent devices have both pros and cons.

One of the key considerations to keep in mind is that operational (end) users of such systems will be confronted with innumerable alerts every day and some of them maybe false alarms. If people like Mr. X are informed every time a truck becomes defunct, it might be too much data for a person to handle. What if we built some intelligence to enrich the data and check for valid business impact before informing Mr. X? Maybe the truck has broken down while returning to warehouse, with no pending deliveries on it. Using SAP Leonardo IoT Bridge, one can configure these checks using the service APIs from other business systems to decide the impact before surfacing this notification to the end user.

If the event has a valid business impact, while dealing with a defunct truck Mr. X will need to know what customers are affected, where alternate stock is available, which other customer orders could be affected, if he chooses to use available stock in the inventory to resolve this problem. Most of the answers are likely already available in SAP enterprise applications and someone from Mr. X’s team needs to look it up, which is likely why he had to make so many phone calls. In addition, he must ensure that the truck driver is informed what to do next as there could be penalties associated with having a defunct vehicle on the streets and check if cross docking at that location is an option or not.

SAP Leonardo IoT Bridge is configurable and will allow partners and customers to extend SAP delivered scenarios to be tailored to specific customer needs beyond outbound-logistics.  For example, in retail, store managers may want to monitor consumption patterns of perishable items in the coolers. If it declines below a certain threshold, they may want to consider creating online offers and review incoming orders for these items and adjust the planned temporary staffing for the receipt of these orders. These operational users would like to see incoming orders, inventory of the perishable items, and other online offers that have been made in the past all in one place to make that decision quickly.

In manufacturing, section managers or plant managers maybe alerted of a probable machine breakdown. They would like to see the impact to the production orders on the assembly line and may want to reprioritize actual customer orders ahead of make to stock orders. At the same, they may want to adjust planned temporary labor for the next few shifts, or cancel a shift, or undertake some other activity-like work on service parts orders in the interim. In this scenario, the operational users will want information from multiple enterprise systems to understand the business context and impact to make appropriate decisions. They may want to view of the indoor floor plan of the shop floor to get an overview of where raw materials, components and tools are located in-order to make an informed decision on the re-prioritization. SAP Leonardo IoT Bridge offers a feature to view indoor floor plans of facilities and buildings for the operational user.

Do these examples ring a bell? Do you have similar situations where SAP Leonardo IoT Bridge can help configure a scenario for your business or your customer.   I am truly excited to chart out these new scenarios on Bridge for you. Looking forward to the exciting journey ahead!


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Sijesh Manohar is product manager, SAP Leonardo IoT Bridge

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