When I first encountered the term ‘intelligent enterprise,’ my mind naturally started to craft a picture of an aerospace manufacturer that could quickly understand current situations based on past experiences to drive reliable decision-making.

I looked into the definition of ‘intelligence’ to support my predetermined notion and found the following:


The definitions seemed fitting, but my curiosity drove me to dig deeper. I found myself only accounting for the traditional definition of ‘intelligence’ – or what most of us would refer to as being “book smart.” But what about the Picassos and Beethovens of the world, or people who manage relationships and gauge the emotions of others really well? How can we define “intelligence” on a broader scale that would help to illustrate the full breadth of the capabilities of an intelligent enterprise?

The Many Facets of Human Intelligence

In my search for a holistic approach, I came across a framework that provides four defining categories of intelligence:

  • Instinctive – innate drive to survive
  • Intellectual – book smart, rational
  • Emotional – awareness of our and others’ emotions
  • Intuitive – connection to purpose

Throughout each day, we as humans have to establish and adapt the right balance between these categories in order to maneuver through situations.  All four categories play a role in daily decisions and functions – even as simple as safely crossing the street.

When you start to think about the balancing act of our intelligence and the synchronization of our bodily systems required simply to get us across the street, it is natural to wonder how we can do such activities so effortlessly. This is the essence of the Intelligent Enterprise. The systems and lines of business work together using intelligent technology that allows each part of the business to proactively communicate and function together with little to no gaps. At the center of all of this activity is the digital core, or the brain, connecting the systems and allowing them to quickly adapt to changes, like maintenance issues or employee shortages, as needed.

The Destiny of the Intelligent Aerospace Enterprise

Wilder Penfield, a famous neurosurgeon, described the brain as “the organ of destiny.” This is an accurate description of the brain of the enterprise—the digital core. The majority of the enterprise’s information resides in the digital core. This includes business transactions and rules, historical data, operational data, and much more. Maintaining a promising destiny for the business requires aerospace enterprises to leverage this data and maneuver diverse challenges every day, much like the human body. In order to identify optimal decisions, the data from the digital core must be aligned to the entire value chain, just as the systems and parts of the body must be well-connected.

Similar to the human body, an enterprise has to collect information in real time, process it, and communicate the results. To achieve this, the different systems involved have to exchange information and collect the data at scale. Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, sensors, radio frequency interference (RFI), and video analytics are critical to collect the data in addition to all the transnational data captured by the core system.

It is crucial that the core is able to extend its data and rules to other business areas in a timely manner to ensure rapid adoption to the ever-changing market. The Intelligent Enterprise uses a semantic layer to quickly retrieve the necessary information from the digital core and various other systems regardless of data formats. The systems supporting an intelligent enterprise are able to access the source of the data as well as communicate and correlate the relevant data to the situation, which facilitates real-time data management. A trusted digital core provides the architecture needed to support intelligent decision-making tools, such as predictive models, optimization models, and embedded analytics that require cleansed and secure data.

Combining the information from the digital core with real-time data allows decision support systems to become more effective. Automation and data validation at the creation of data will be critical. One has to trust the base of the decision. The intelligent aerospace enterprise ensures optimal decision-making by providing accurate, consistent, and timely data to support hyper customer-centric operations.

The Intelligent Enterprise gives aerospace and defense businesses the power to simplify traditionally complex processes with greater success and less resources. Intelligent enterprises work as one so employees can focus on more meaningful and innovative work while intelligent technologies perform operational, mundane tasks in the background.

We, as humans, do not have to ponder about how we will get across the street. Our intelligence and connected systems naturally work together so we can spend our time thinking about the important things, like what we’ll have for dinner or how we can get humans on Mars. The evolution has allowed humans to be more creative. To quote Albert Einstein, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

To learn more about the Intelligent Enterprise and what it can mean for your aerospace and defense business, join SAP and Boeing at the 2019 SAP A&D Innovation Days in Seattle on March 18-20. Visit the event site for more details.

Torsten Welte is global vice president and head of Aerospace and Defense at SAP.