Machine Learning Thursdays: SAP as a Startup—Blockchain Edition
What is SAP.iO? SAP.iO is a foray into the world of startups, from an established tech company. It is the empowerment of utilizing existing SAP technology, access to SAP data, and collaboration with SAP customers to build innovative software technologies. SAP.iO is powered through the SAP.iO fund, investing in software startups with a strategic market advantage.
This enables SAP to operate at the lightning fast pace of a startup, while maintaining core software and cloud business solution approach. Customers win by having access to cutting edge products and processes, and SAP continues its tradition of innovation and market leading business solutions. As SAP continues the mission to be the most innovative cloud company powered by SAP HANA, SAP.iO is a particularly unique collaboration.
To quote SAP CEO Bill McDermott,
“If you have a bold dream to solve one of the world’s most significant challenges, join us, and let’s chase your dreams together.”
This sums up perfectly the startup mentality that is harnessed within SAP.iO. Where boulders needed to be moved to create and innovate in the past, it is possible to now start with a pebble-sized idea and run it to ground, all while working within the SAP platform with SAP data. All of this is part of the larger strategy—investing in disruptive technologies and business models.
Machine Thinking and Blockchain
One of the technologies on the forefront of this machine thinking revolution is blockchain. What exactly is blockchain, you might be wondering? Blockchain is a verified record of who owns what and who transacts what, in a business environment. It was originally created as the technology utilized to trade the digital currency Bitcoin, but its potential is vast.
Think of it like this—the “block” is data (for example files/information/transaction records), and it is recorded across a peer-to-peer network. The various participants to the transaction can view and verify the data, using algorithms to determine whether to accept or reject the transaction. If the data is approved, it will be added to the distributed ledger as a “block” stored in a chronological “chain”. This blockchain is secured through cryptography, which is a process of utilizing algorithms and keys to encrypt and decrypt data as it’s accessed between users.
How Can Blockchain Help Business
So how can Blockchain help business? First off, it can reduce the complexity of the transaction, and the “hands on” factor is significantly decreased. This can result in a reduction in the needed number of intermediaries, such as banks, accountants, lawyers, and brokers. The information in the blockchain is viewable by all applicable participants and cannot be modified, resulting in increased trust between parties, and reducing the likelihood of fraud and thereby lowering risk.
The very nature of this encrypted information being distributed amongst varied sources means that hacking will be difficult, and the universal visibility without alteration allows the parties to verify and view at any time. In addition, one of the major benefits is that Blockchain is programmable, allowing for streamlining of remedial tasks, and customization of actions such as triggering (example: do X when this criteria is met), event scheduling, and payment generation to name a few.
SAP is also utilizing Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS). This is an attractive way for companies to begin experimenting with Blockchain, particularly with SAP Leonardo, the digital innovation system, which provides a ready-to-use blockchain technology that lives in the SAP Cloud Platform. The openness of this platform is what makes it unique. Other systems have similar products, but SAP Leonardo is able to run on non-SAP Cloud systems, opening this technology to a broad range of consumers.