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This is the Tesla autopilot in action — and it’s a great analogy for the future of digital business.

As every Tesla car equipped with autopilot drives down the street, it’s using sensors and the internet of things to gather vast amounts of big data. And then it uses analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to turn that data into a superior driving experience.

That’s a lot of what digital business is all about — turning data into better products and services.

But Tesla is taking things to a whole new level. The data from every car is sent to headquarters and shared with every other car on the road. So your car knows what to look out for even if you’ve never been on that street before.

Tesla has essentially turned itself into a massively parallel learning machine. The Tesla customer experience improves automatically the more people use the products. And the company is gathering detailed information that can be used for many of other business opportunities.

That’s perhaps why Tesla is now the most valuable US car company, eclipsing General Motors, even though GM makes over one hundred times as many cars.

These types of self-improving products are now starting to take over the world. For example, AlphaGo’s algorithms shocked the experts last year by beating one of the world’s strongest Go champions. But it’s been learning even more since then — to the point where one Chinese Go master says it now “plays like a God.”

So imagine — what if your products and services automatically improved as more people used them?

We’re actually working on that at SAP. For example, our new chatbot called SAP CoPilot is designed to make our software even easier to use. You can simply say things like “book me a vacation next week”, and CoPilot will respond. Because it’s leverage machine learning, the quality of the responses will automatically improve over time and as more people use it.

And that’s just the start. With the SAP Leonardo digital innovation system, we can help you embed machine learning into your operational processes and customer experiences — in order to help you realize the vision of self-improving digital business. There are hundreds of different opportunities in every part of your organization, from manufacturing to HR and Finance and many more. For example, chemicals giant BASF was able to use SAP Leonardo Machine Learning to improve invoice matching from 70% to 94% — with big direct savings.

But there’s one key prerequisite for this vision: data.

Artificial intelligence requires large amounts of high-quality training data and works best when applied to a clear, specific business problem. With over 45 years of leadership in enterprise applications, there is no better-quality store of business data than the world’s SAP systems. And SAP can help ensure that you get a single, consistent, governed view of all your information, no matter where it’s stored, inside or outside the organization.

It’s not about the technology, it’s about the transformation. And it’s not about the algorithms, it’s about the data. There’s no company in the world that is better placed than SAP to help you leverage AI in your business.

You have to start now.

The winners in digital business will be the ones who first start the virtuous circle of AI. More data means better artificial intelligence algorithms, which means better customer experiences, which means better customers, which means more data…

To find out more, please take a look at the SAP Leonardo Machine Learning solutions that can help you towards this exciting vision of “self driving business”.

This post first appeared on my Digital Business and Business Analytics blog

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