What’s More Vital Than High-Tech on Your Digital Journey?

First things first, intelligent technology — while cool — isn’t the first step on your digital journey to SAP Leonardo.

“We have to first make sure that the entrepreneurs understand which business problem they’re trying to solve … [or] to optimize,” Global President of SAP Leonardo and Analytics Mala Anand told reporters the day before SAP Leonardo Now at SAP Labs Latin America this month. “What is our objective as to how much we want to save, or how much speed we want?”

Look Beyond the Cutting-Edge Tech

“It’s not just having the technology — because that already exists,” Alfredo Sandoval, chief of innovation of Santiago-based liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) distributor Abastible, said during an SAP Leonardo Now panel discussion. “The important thing is to have a follow-up, to have guidance to really understand the problem and see how to apply an adequate solution with the latest and best technology.”

Abastible is active along South America’s west coast, providing and refilling LPG cylinders via service stations, convenience stores and delivery trucks. This year’s winner of Innoweeks — an SAP Labs Latin America contest that teams up SAP users and partners with university students and SAP experts to co-innovate and solve a real-world business problem — Abastible aims to use intelligent technologies to predict demand so accurately that the firm can consistently replace each LPG cylinder just before the customer must order a new one.

Note that Abastible’s focus isn’t on IoT sensors or machine learning algorithms.

“The start point is the business outcome — the outcome is not SAP Leonardo,” Global Head of SAP Leonardo Services Maggie Buggie told me in a video at SAPPHIRE NOW this summer (see below). “The outcome is: ‘How does it help me sell more shoes?’ ‘How does it help me manage planned capacity, refinery and usage?’ ‘How does it help me understand traceability?’”

Where to Start Your SAP Leonardo Journey — Literally

“The best way to get started, like you are all here today, is by visiting our SAP Leonardo Centers … where these innovations come alive,” Anand said at SAP Leonardo Now. “We actually show you, you can look and feel — not just the technology — but the speed and the agility; and you can come and co-create these capabilities, these solutions here with us.”

The SAP Leonardo Center in São Leopoldo is where the journey began for Mexico City-based department store Liverpool, which had found the process of starting a digital journey daunting and difficult. Working with SAP through the center and Innoweeks helped the retail giant focus on where to begin.

“We saw the reality of what our problem was … so we were able to identify the problem and develop from there — distance was not an issue,” Ina Flores, who is responsible for Liverpool’s delivery and logistics within Mexico, said during an SAP Leonardo Now panel discussion. “SAP’s team in Brazil went to Mexico, and afterward, we continued with online meetings … this helped develop a successful product [and] we’re very happy.”

Alpha and Omega

“SAP Leonardo offers a connection to the world, and I hope that in the next five years it will help us solve known problems … and also find problems we don’t even know exist,” Nestor Felpi, director of Supply Chain and Innovation for Natura, said during an SAP Leonardo Now panel discussion. “It’s a platform that helps us to solve problems quickly, and helps us to connect with our customers in a simple, practical, efficient way.”

But Natura started with a narrow focus too. The São Paulo-based manufacturer of household and personal care products — which relies heavily on direct sales — employed intelligent technologies to simplify the matching of its customers with the nearest consultants who have desired items in stock.

“Some customers, their need is just make it work better; just make it more efficient — help me do what I already do better, quicker, faster, cheaper in a way that is more meaningful to my customer, to my employee, to my shareholder,” SAP’s Buggie said in the video. “The most successful way is always when the outcome remains the start point and the finish point.”

Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher.