Soccer team in a huddle

Innovation Helps Tear Down Walls

Feature Article | November 12, 2014 by Uta Spinger

Bernd Leukert demonstrated how the developer community could help overcome technical boundaries, based on the Internet of Things and new s-innovations.

Many of the 4,000 participants at the SAP TechEd && d-code conference in Berlin had the opportunity to join in the huge open-air party on November 9 held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Helium balloons formed a border of light along the former path of the Wall as a symbol of the peaceful revolution. As they rose into the air, the Wall symbolically broke up over the skies of Berlin.

The keynote speech for the developer community also involved overcoming borders, but in the context of technology. Bernd Leukert, member of the Executive Board, Products & Innovation, demonstrated a variety of Internet-of-Things scenarios that link people and machines with one another. “The element that links all these scenarios is the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, which is open to the entire network and enables innovations 10 times faster,” said Bernd.

Big Data washroom and flashing wine bottles

Of course, no SAP TechEd would be complete without “Demo Guy” Ian Kimbell. He demonstrated how oenophiles and wine retailers will be able to benefit from the Internet of Things in the future. Sensors at the wine shop recognize Ian’s smartphone and have noted his preference for red wines. They also save his purchase history. When he approaches the shelves, the bottles of wine that match his profile most closely start to flash. When he removes a bottle, additional information appears on his smartphone. The wine retailer receives information about the customer, such as a heat map on the dashboard that shows the customer’s movements in the store.

Another example was initiated by Hagleitner, an Austrian customer specializing in toiletries. They equip their restrooms with sensors. “The sensors transmit the current data to the base station regularly,” explained Gernot Bernert. He is not, however, interested in the length of time that particular customers spend washing their hands. His aim is to create mathematical models that will make it possible to better predict the need for replenishing soap and paper supplies and optimize cleaning-staff assignments.

There was also news in the connected cars domain. SAP has teamed up with Shell and Volkswagen for an innovation project that will pave the way for a wide range of services aimed at making the lives of drivers easier, including mobile payments at filling stations.

s-innovations: Roadmap to simplicity

Bernd also announced the ignition of the next stage of the innovation rocket: solutions to help lines of business in industries to run simple in a digital and networked world. s-innovations drive simplicity by combining the power of the SAP HANA platform, SAP Fiori user experience, and SAP’s global cloud. The solutions will be offered in a variety of consumption models (public cloud [SaaS], managed cloud, and on-premise) to give customers the maximum possible flexibility.

SAP Simple Finance marked the first in SAP’s journey to help customers run simple. With its internally deployed SAP Simple Finance solution, SAP has already proven how a major customer demand can be made to work: simplicity. SAP Simple Finance helps to drive instant insight across finance while simplifying IT by eliminating aggregates, data redundancies and replications – making as an example quarterly and annual reports so laborious in the past. Bernd Leukert’s promise: Costs will be reduced while system flexibility and expandability are increased. The first external customer for SAP Simple Finance is the Australian La Trobe University in Melbourne.

“To reduce complexity, the right software experience is essential,” says Bernd. In a recently published blog on Industry 4.0, he examines the role of the IT specialist in the networked control of value chains and elaborates which new qualifications will be needed.

“Houston, we have a data problem”

Björn Goerke, head of Products & Innovation Technology, also recalled the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. “It was a very moving moment for me.” He then drew a link to another significant event in Berlin, John F. Kennedy’s famous speech in which he proudly proclaimed to the world – in German, no less – “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Two years previously, Kennedy had declared his vision of sending men to the moon and safely back to earth. It was a simple plan, but an extremely complex project. And even if they aren’t dealing with rocket science, companies often face this very problem today, according to Björn. “They know exactly where they want to go, but the journey is complex and full of resistance. Paraphrasing the fateful words from the Apollo 13 mission, it often means: Houston, we have a data problem.”

SAP HANA offers a solution to this data problem, because the platform processes all the data as if it were just a single dataset for both structured and unstructured data. This could be from social networks or geo data.

Björn spoke of “one truth, one platform, a uniform user experience”. He announced the next step in innovations for late November with SAP HANA SPS09.

At the end of his speech, he called on all the developers to participate in the enhancement of the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud Platform and to build innovations on its foundation. He then quoted Ronald Reagan from his famous appeal at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987: “Tear down this wall!”

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