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What’s SAP Leonardo? It’s not just a product, it’s more like ingredients, a recipe, and a cooking class.

I’m a big fan of analogies to help explain complex ideas. SAP Leonardo is a “digital innovation system”, and I already wrote a long blog on why that’s different from being a product, and why the difference is important. This post will attempt to use an analogy to say the same thing in a different way.

SAP Leonardo isn’t a product, because it isn’t like purchasing cake ingredients (various technologies that you assemble), a cake at the supermarket (an off-the-shelf, packaged item), or ordering a custom cake from a baker (as you could get from your favorite systems integrator).

Instead, it’s more like learning to cook cakes on an industrial scale, in your own kitchen.

The class starts with you working with the instructor to figure out exactly what sort of cake most makes sense for you to try out first — a birthday cake? anniversary cake? Is it for kids or adults? Obviously, the ideal cake will depend on who you’re making it for, and the instructor will suggest ways of reaching out to ask the potential tasters what they’re really interested in.

Once you’ve decided, the instructor provides preselected ingredients — such as IoT, Analytics, and Machine Learning — in just the right portions.

Then the instructor walks you through the recipe — a series of instructions that others have already successfully used to bake similar cakes. You and the instructor do the work together, based on your cooking expertise and familiarity with the new exotic ingredients.

The result will be a first prototype cake that includes several layers, with a solidly delicious base of cloud platform at the bottom through to the attractive user interface icing on the top. It’s then ready for taste testing.

Once you have a successful prototype cake, the next step is scaling it to production. The class helps you figure out how to do this, taking into account your real-world constraints, such as how much money you have to spend (the business case), how well your kitchen is equipped (what technology you already have that it needs to integrate with), and how you’re going to sell it (investigating new business models).

And the end of the lesson, you don’t just have cakes — you have the foundation for a working, profitable production line, and you’re improved your skill to take on different types of cake in the future.

And the final extended analogy may be that of a TV cooking contest. You’re taking the class, but you have competitors all trying to create the best cake for a jury of customers.

You’re all working against the clock, with the same set of basic ingredients, and your skills, creativity and knowledge of the jury are what will set you apart from the others. The winner gets increased market share, while the losers go back to the kitchen to work on new recipes to try to win in the future!

At the end of the day, you COULD do all this yourself… but it’s always good to have help from the experts — especially ones that have been working on these ingredients and recipes for years…

And if all that was a bit too long-winded, here’s a good shorter version, courtesy of Darwin Deano:

“Looking at SAP Leonardo through an ERP lens is like looking for the pizza when you’ve been given an oven”

To find out more about SAP Leonardo, visit sap.com/leonardo

[A version of this post first appeared on my Digital Business and Business Analytics Blog]

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