The day after SAP Leonardo was announced in January 2017 I went looking for more information. At that stage, put Leonardo and SAP into a search engine and the most popular result was an Australian SAP consultancy called Leonardo – I bet they didn’t mind that.
Several months later after numerous articles, webinars and a Palo Alto meeting with the SAP Leonardo team and I can say what it is. SAP Leonardo is a branding of existing and developing IoT and other capabilities named after the Italian polymath whose areas of interest included invention, science, mathematics, engineering, and many more – he did some painting too. Nothing to do with award winning actors or anthropomorphic turtles.
Let’s put this into context, SAP is known worldwide for its ERP software. Leonardo is the ‘platform’ to connect business processes with IoT devices. It turns Things to Outcomes – it takes data from those devices and, via analysis and visualisation, produces an Action (eg reset traffic light sequence, send engineer, order more stock) which produces an Outcome (eg reduced congestion, minimise production losses, increase revenue). The connected systems need not be SAP applications and need not be ERP.
At the heart of Leonardo is the Foundation layer – in the diagram this is shown based on the Cloud Platform. I expect this to be the majority of cases going forward, but there is an on-premise version too. The Foundation handles all the message protocols to connect to devices, manages the devices themselves including authentication (IoT Services) and provides access to other services like Data Streaming, UI, Geo-mapping, Predictive Analytics, etc. SAP will shortly be releasing a new IoT Services 3.0 which should include elements of Plat.One they acquired last year.
The Leonardo Edge component (if used) resides on a Gateway (Raspberry PI, PC, etc) and is intelligent. This means upstream data – data from the device – is not just relayed by the gateway, but can be stored, analysed and actions taken immediately. This approach reduces data traffic – which in some cases may be a financial cost – but also reduces reaction time. If a sensor has suddenly spiked then a rapid response to shut down the machine, reduce power or rpm may mean the difference between investigation and complete failure. In such a situation the recent device data can then be sent to the Foundation layer for detailed analysis. With, of course, a work order created and appropriate engineer scheduled depending on the analysis.
New functionality is in development which will allow elements of business process data to be sent downstream. This could be work orders, stock data etc that can be used as additional decision parameters, or even as instructions to a machine – but that is getting close to MES.
Connected Stuff – SAP has categorised IoT into 6 – categories. Each one has a catchy self-explanatory title except perhaps Connected Markets – which is best to think of as spaces – both urban and rural. One other category explanation is perhaps required – Products vs Assets. Assets are seen as large expensive pieces of equipment that need maintenance and for which you may maintain a BOM. Products are between “$500-$1000” in value. These are expensive drills, fridges/coolers, vending machines, coffee machines. The target market for Connected Products is OEM.
Each Connected category is in fact a suite of Applications and/or Solutions, some of which are not IoT products and many of which are duplicated across the categories. For example ‘Track and Trace’ can be found supporting Products, Assets, Fleet and Infrastructure, while ‘Vehicle Insights’ is under Markets and Fleet. Each of these SAP Applications/Solutions do provide ‘out of the box’ functionality, ‘plug and play’ and can be further customised.
As for non-IoT functionality examples, Connected Products contains Hybris Billing and IBP. The idea being that Hybris is used as an extension of the IoT data to change a revenue model to cost per use. Or that IBP can be used to match supply and demand using actual usage data. So Leonardo is not just the IoT platform, the remit is wider and it has been labelled by some in SAP as SAP’s “Innovation Platform” (expanded on greatly in Sapphire 2017).
However, if you are looking to buy for instance Connected Products – it doesn’t work like that – you need to buy the individual components for your specific solution.
Lastly we get to the Leonardo Bridge. This is not an integration layer. This has been described as being like the “Starship Enterprise Bridge”. The component is not yet available, but it is proposed that it will be the control centre. The area to which all information is feed, analysis is available and decisions can be made. Maybe even Photon Torpedoes fired.