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B1 Assistant – Retire your keyboard with SAP Business One and Alexa

Edit Jan/2018: Cleanups and updates to the tutorial

You’ve probably heard about a prototype we demo at the ASUG Summit in Miami. The proposal was to present how easy companies can embrace the digital economy transforming their business on daily tasks (if you haven’t seen that before, you are probably not following the right people on twitter).

A bit different from what some of you asked me, this is not a core feature of SAP Business One, it’s a prototype developed by the Solution Architects team, just like many others we shared before.

Good news the code is open for you to use and implement your own version. And here is a tutorial of how to install the B1 Assistant and “retire” your keyboard for some B1 tasks.

So, grab your popcorn, sit tight, follow me on twitter and enjoy this how-to!

The Architecture

Alexa  (Amazon Echo’s persona) has several capabilities (Skills). Those are divided between Native (time, weather, traffic, news…) or 3rd Party (Uber, Spotify, Business One…)

To activate the 3rd party skill, we use Invocation Names. Those are nothing more than the name of the skill we want to call. For example: “Alexa, ask Uber for a ride” or “Alexa, open Spotify”. Once it hears your command, it will identify the skill to be triggered and call a specific Web Service that can be hosted on a Private Cloud or on AWS. Like this:

In our case, working the with B1 Assistant Skill the architecture is:

It’s not my intention to get into details about skill. I strongly suggest you take a look at Alexa’s documentation. It’s highly informative

 

Skills details

Beside the Invocation Names, the skills have 2 other attributes, the intent, which is the specific action to be activated and the slots that works as parameters of the first one.

Implementing the B1 Assistant

Enough with definitions and small talk, let’s go for the funny part. So you can have your own B1 Assistant.

Prerequisites

All the code used in this tutorial is shared on github

1 – Deploying the B1 Assistant HANA app

We’ve seen that whenever a user asks Alexa , it will trigger a Skill, this skill will call a function and this function will interact with an application (SAP Business One)

So let’s build our stack, starting by the end. The B1 Assistant App on HANA.

There 2 options for this part:

Whatever the case, once you have the b1Assistant package on your HANA system.
Go to HANA Administration Tools dashboard (http://hanaserver:8000/sap/hana/xs/admin) and set a user and password for the file: b1Assistant > lib > annonuser.xssqlcc

Note: Alexa will use this user to retrieve data and access the services.
You can also access http://hanaserver:8000/b1Assistant to test your app back-end

note: B1 user/pass is set on services/b1call.xsjs file

 

2 – Creating the B1 Assistant Skill

Create a new Alexa Skill following these steps. When asked for a Model choose Custom.

Next part we need to customize and build the skill.

On the Skill menu, choose the option JSON Editor. Replace its content with the model on our GitHub.

Click Save then Build your model

 

3 – Creating the B1 Assistant Function

With the HANA App deployed, we need a function to call its services (Create orders, item recommendation, sales info).

As mentioned before, we have a couple options to do this. Both demonstrated on this video

Option 1 – Using Amazon Web Service Lambda Functions

Option 2 – Run the app on SAP Cloud Platform – Cloud Foundry

Sample output when the app is successfully deployed on SAP Cloud Platform

4 – Link the function to your Alexa Skill and Test.

Last step!

Whatever option you choose before, at the end you should have an enpoint for your function. I.e, an ARN if you are using Amazon Lambda, or an URL if you pushed the app to SAP Cloud Plaftorm.

Back to the Amazon Developer Console (the same as step 2). Choose the right the menu Endpoint and set the right option for your case.

Choose the type of Endpoint for you case and set the address. More about endpoints here

Save your settings and build your model again!

Your B1 Assistant is ready to work! You can use the Test Console, the Echo Simulator or with a real Amazon Echo by enabling the Skill on your Alexa app. Which is much cooler 😎

 

Spit it out!

Do you like it? Or maybe you hate it? Have any questions? Feel free to ask and let your comments below. Your feedback it much appreciated.

Special Thanks to the SAP Business One dev team in Shanghai that helped us with the predictive analysis feature! You rock!

 

B1 Assisant got smarter!!

There is a very cool enchament on this prototype made by Yatsea Li, integrating it with the Twitter Sentiment App. If you want to give your B1 Assistant more powers, once you fisished this tutorial, follow the instructions in his blog

 

33 Comments
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  • Hi Ralph,
    I have the prereqs SAP Business One 9.2 PL04 and SBODEMOUS schema available, but not on hana. We are running on sql database, with microsoft sql server. Is it possible to integrate with alexa?

    regards harsha

  • Hello, Ralph, that’s fine.

    I’m trying to do the 1 part of your tutorial (1 – Deploying the B1 Assistant HANA app)
    And I have 2 options:
    I import b1Assistant application delivery unity or I get a clone straight from your github and create my own Project XS.
    Well, I’d like to import yours, so I minimize my mistakes. 🙂
    When I click on the link that you placed (how to import a delivery unity), it is not working. I do not know how.

    Please, could you pass me as I do this import?

     

    Best regards,

    Fernando Fonseca

  • Hi Ralph,

    The b1Assistant.js that is installed in Amazon Lambda only has the setting for the

    var g_hdbServer = ‘our Hana Server’;
    var g_hdbPort = 8000; // Http(8000) or Https(4300)

    In our case, we are using our internal servers. How does the code in Lambda access SBODEMOUS data without a B1 user ID (e.g. “manager”) and password?

    Kind regards

    Chong Chin

     

  • Hi Ralph,

    1.  Within the Alexa testing tool, in AWS Developer site, I can successfully get the following

    a)  Open be one  > correct answer

    b)  I need sales reports  > Response:  asks for item group

    c)  Electronics > Response:  asks for quarter

    d)  First quarter > Response:  asks for year

    e) Two thousand and eleven > Response: “I am sorry, but there are no Electronics sales in the 1st quarter of 2011”

    But the data exists in the standard SBODEMOUS.

    2.      I tried with the Echo simulator

    a) Open Be One  > correct response

    b)  I need sales reports  > Response:  I have put sales reports in your shopping list

    3.  We have already open the ports to the internet. There were no access errors in both – AWS Developer or Echo simulator

    4.   In our installation, the B1SL is installed in a separate VM from the Hana DB server. In b1Assistant.js, in Lambda, I have written down the IP of the Hana DB server.

    Please let me know what could possibly be wrong with the above. Alexa appears to be integrated with Lambda, and there are no errors regarding access issues.

    Kind regards

    Chong Chin

    • The line 2b) is very weird, i would say to you deactivate/active the B1 Assisant skill on the alexa app again.

       

      But this protoype considers that both HANA and SL are on the same server. You will have to change the /bin/http/B1SL files to point to the right server. Otherwise it will fail in the creation of  Orders

  • Hi Yatsea,

    Sorry for the delayed response. For some reasons, I am not getting an alert when a posting is made to this blog.

    I have gone through your video to B1 Asisstant version 2, with the additional 2 new deployment options and also the additional new questions that we can pose.

    Thank you and kind regards

    Chong Chin

  • Hi Ralph,

    There’s a lot amazon echo version, which one do you recommend using ? is it all the same functionality ? and what’s the best version of echo ?

     

    Regards,

     

    Hendra

  • hello Ralph ,

     

    i am searching for delivery unit since 3 days and the link broken , we are SAP partners and you should help , i tried to clone with SAP HANA but showing this errors , seems something missing , because even the link in GitHub , does not explain the requirements before clone project , when i cloning project it is showing these errors :

    please help or upload Delivery Unit here or any correct link , we need it for Demonstration for potential customers

     

     

     

  • Hello ,

    please provide us with Delivery Unit , i am unable to build it , i cloned it but still showing same errors , please upload delivery unit ASAP , building project is not clear and no resources to help common please

  • hi ralph ,

    i set all required parameters in B1Assistant delivery unit , like username and password of SBODEMOUS , and hana server address , when i attempt to test skills using amazon skills , the same one i built this is response

     

    please advise ..

    ==========

    be one

    Hello, here is B1 assistant. Let me know what do you wish.

    give me sales info

    Which Item Group do you want to know?

    pcs

    Which Item Group do you want to know?

    pc

    Got it! What quarter?

    first

    What year do you need?

    2014

    There was a problem with the requested skill’s response

     

  • hi ralph ,

     

    i review the code of index.html , when i click on get recommendation i got error , i think this is because different version of HANA , i am using 1.0 rev 12 :

    in the code

    var path = B1XAddress +
    “pervasive/IMCC/srv/pa/service/sale_recommend”+
    “?cardcode=”+body.CardCode;

    b1xaddres = /sap/sbo

     

    i searched for sale_recommendation , nothing exist , there is salesrecommendation js file :

     

    sap/sbo/pervasive/IMCC/resources/js/pa/sidebar/salesRecommendation.js

    because your path mentioned in the code no longer exist .

    note i am using 9.3 PL1

  • Dear Ralph,

    Thank you very much for the contribution, I’m trying to do with the “Create Sales Order” button and it returns “Internal Server Error”, which I could review?

    Kind regard