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Author's profile photo Phil Cooley

Forget Best Practices – the Future is in Next Practices

I recently completed the SAP Leonardo openSAP course that covers enablement of the Intelligent Enterprise. There have been a few courses offered in this format and I have to say that some courses really lend themselves to this way of learning. This is like binge watching a series on Netflix! Awesome! I’m a big fan! The course does not have the weekly assignment offerings but has learnings that take about 4-6 hours which you can schedule anytime over a 4 week period. I did leave completion of this course to the last minute ? but glad I actually took the time to do this. What was difficult was to try and summarise this content as there was a lot of material to consume. But try I did!! Of course there is no substitute to actually doing the course yourself so my recommendation would be to sign up, watch the videos and learn more about this emerging area of technology. Additionally, before I get into the detail it is important to note that I’m not an expert in this area. As I have covered in my other blogs on OpenSAP courses this is just a recap of what I learned through the course.

I really enjoyed the Introduction to this course Mala Anand did a great job of summarizing the entire course content and provided some great context for the future units. It did take me some time to select a title for this blog as I really liked the quote “We Drink Our Own Champagne” referring to the fact that SAP themselves are not just talking about this technology they are actually using it within the organisation. I liked this but decided to go with the Next Practices title. Thanks Mala and thanks OpenSAP for the title! Over the years, Best practices have been important to understand and offer to clients so I was really interested in hearing the Next Practices concept. This concept revolved around the fact that Best Practices are now outdated.

“Winners in the Digital economy are often characterized by one unique characteristic: speed”

(Mala Anand – openSAP 2018)

These organisations are creating new markets themselves – innovating at a rate beyond all others and using capabilities of next generation technologies and here is where SAP Leonardo fits in. Organisations that embrace and actively seek to use these new technologies will succeed while others will be left behind. The capabilities and outcomes have been summarized below.

Figure:1 Next Practices – SAP Leonardo Capabilities and Outcomes (openSAP course – 2018)

Not sure about you but I’m seriously excited by the future – especially with what I have learned from this course. Over the years I’ve made it my business to work with organisations on improving their business processes so with SAP Leonardo seeking to embed intelligence into them is extraordinary. I cannot wait to see this in action and be part of future projects in this space. As Mala also states “The intelligent enterprise is more than just an automated business” so Leonardo does not mean just automating existing business processes, it is a vision of bringing more intelligence to them – to make every business process smarter. Over the years I’ve had mixed feelings with the automation of business processes as I have seen it lend itself to ownership issues – i.e. if there is a problem within that automation who is responsible for it and who takes ownership when trying to resolve the issue. This I am particularly interested in seeing what comes through in the Next Practices.

In the opening to the course there were some key questions/thoughts raised:

  • What if no shipment of product ever went missing?
  • What if a customer never needed to return a product back to a retailer?
  • What if HR Professionals never had to read a pile of CV’s to find potential talent?

SAP’s answer to this is their strategy of delivering the intelligent enterprise through 3 key components – the Intelligent Suite, the Digital Platform and Intelligent Technologies. This is summarized by this slide.

Figure:2 SAP Components for the Intelligent Enterprise (from OpenSAP course)

The three components as part of SAP’s strategy to deliver the Intelligent Enterprise are as follows:

The Intelligent suite covers the current offerings from SAP to enhance business processes, allowing better interaction with customers, suppliers and employees through smarter applications.

The Digital Platform of course covers SAP’s Cloud Platform, the super agile enablement platform for extending applications within the intelligent suite with agility! This also covers the HANA Data Management Suite.

“As avid readers of my blogs or twitter feeds would know I am a massive fan of SAP Cloud Platform, this is the digital platform for Next Practices – speed is the key!”

(Phil Cooley – 2018)

And lastly,

The Intelligent Technologies – this is where SAP Leonardo fits in – enabling businesses to harness data, detect patterns, to predict outcomes and to advise actions. This area is where the course focused on.

So, how does SAP Leonardo do this? Through 6 key technologies namely:

  • SAP Leonardo – Internet of Things (IoT)
  • SAP Leonardo – Analytics
  • SAP Leonardo – Blockchain
  • SAP Leonardo – Machine Learning (ML)
  • SAP Leonardo – Big Data
  • SAP Leonardo – Data Intelligence

Figure:3 SAP Leonardo Intelligent Technologies (openSAP Course 2018)

Each of these will be covered in a little more detail now. It is important to note and the above diagram depicts this – that any innovation is still Design Led – it is important that even though new technologies are being looked at Design is still the key for enabling these technologies and embedding them into an organisations business processes.

SAP Leonardo – Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT has been around for a while now and I’ve been to several conferences that show a sensor hooked up to an application that identifies an issue and then creates a service ticket for the Supplier of the product to look at and service. Now, a few years on there are predictions that the number of connected sensors will go past 1 trillion by the year 2030. I’m seriously gobsmacked by this number. That is a lot of sensors! ?

“The Internet of Things is literally creating an environment where our lives will be improved in some way” (Elvira Wallis – 2018). Our lives will include autonomous vehicles to reduce collisions as well as early tsunami detection by measuring waves on the ocean floor. Elvira called this the Internet of GOOD things – I like this concept. [Start of Rant] – The one hope I do have for this technology is better traffic management – especially management of traffic lights. I am constantly frustrated by how dumb traffic management systems seem to be at times. I am hoping this technology improves this! [End of Rant].

The course also detailed some Gartner quadrant information on Industrial IoT platforms where SAP is in the visionary category. These platforms were measured against the following technology functions such as: Device Management, Integration, Data Management, Analytics, Application Enablement and Management and lastly Security. So, how does the SAP Leonardo IoT enable the intelligent enterprise I hear you say?? OK, well I did not literally hear you but I will provide the answer anyway by including this slide.

Figure:4 SAP Leonardo IoT Summary (openSAP Course 2018)

There is a lot of information related to the above diagram and I’m not going to summarise or explain all of this here. I will explain the SAP Edge Services component which I had not heard of previously. These services are deployed close to the data source and provides real time execution without a dependency on bandwidth or latency and is accomplished through synchronizing architecture and algorithms. I thought this was interesting. My main learning from this part of the course was the Digital Twin – the virtual representation of a real-life physical product to provide improved visibility with the objective to predict problems and resolve them quicker. Smart idea. There are a few real-life examples covered to illustrate the SAP Leonardo IoT capabilities and I fully recommend checking these out to provide you with a little more understanding. Particularly interesting was the information from the CIO of Pregis – that in weeks Pregis piloted and demonstrated tangible value in with SAP Leonardo IoT and that SAP Connected Goods and SAP Edge Services led to greater productivity and improved customer satisfaction. This led to an increase of machine uptime with a 20% decrease in service visits. Check it out!

[Side note for more information]

SAP Edge Services are a set of powerful micro-services that are deployed at “the edge” of computing devices, bringing together compute, storage, business semantics and asynchronous ECC or S4/HANA transactions to the edge. This is to take advantage of IoT data locally without connectivity, transmission, or cloud computing power. Depending on the requirements, bandwidth, location, and other details, etc., SAP Edge Services can be setup to be real time or near real time.

SAP Edge Services is designed to work with major vendors and standard hardware, basically anything x86 or ARM32 (e.g., Dell, Cisco, Intel, ADLINK, etc.)

[End Side note]


SAP Leonardo – Analytics

SAP Analytics Cloud and the SAP Digital Boardroom makes up the SAP Leonardo Analytic offerings. I recently completed the SAP Analytics Cloud openSAP course and you can check out my review here. Well worth doing the course to learn more about how easy it is to analyse data – quickly and easily. Essentially SAP Analytics Cloud allows connectivity to more data and provides a simplified workflow allowing insights for everyone. The below is one of the slides from the course.


Figure:5 SAP Leonardo Analytics (openSAP Course 2018)


SAP Leonardo – Blockchain

Over the last few months I have read interesting comments about Blockchain on Twitter as being the savior of everything and a few tongue in cheek comments around what it does offer and as the course quite rightly stated it is sometimes difficult to separate facts from the noise surrounding this topic. Essentially Blockchain can best be described with the following quote – which definitely resonated with me.

“Trust is the ultimate currency. The more information comes out of sources that you don’t own or control, the more you need to be certain that it is true, unaltered and can be trusted. Otherwise you won’t utilise it in your business process or base decisions on that information.”

(Raimund from openSAP course 2018).

I thought the last bit of that quote was really important. As business processes start to utilise various data sets to provide insights and predictions it is more important than ever to trust that information. This reminds me of all of the Fake news out there. Imagine an organization making decisions based on information they have obtained that turns out to be false. It could cripple their entire business. Security of information, and trust in that information will be paramount. Key decision making surely can only be based on information that is trustworthy so more than ever this will be a major piece of the puzzle for organisations to control and monitor.

Figure:6 SAP Leonardo – Blockchain (openSAP Course 2018)


This offering is more about sharing of data within a trusted environment that leads to joint innovations of all of those parties involved in the networked business process. The course also covers the sweetspot for Blockchain – those organisations that are decentralized which also have architecture that is decentralized. The course further describes the co-innovation platform detailing the organisations involved and also covers the SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain offerings such as Hyperledger Fabric and Multichain. Definitely heaps of information to consume in this topic alone so I can only say to go to the course and find out more information for yourself.


SAP Leonardo – Machine Learning

This is seriously a topic I am really interested in – hence my excitement when arriving at this section of my blog post. ? I, like many others have experienced times when you are waiting in a phone queue for customer service assistance – absolute one of the worst experiences out there and over the years it has not really improved. I am hoping with Machine Learning these organisations can improve their customer service immensely by using Conversational AI. A really cool example was provided in the video for Unit 5 of the course that combined text, images and directions within a Chatbot scenario – seriously powerful stuff. The course also highlighted the wide variety of use cases and industries that are covered with the SAP Leonardo ML Foundation. A few examples include: Car model detector (this was seriously cool and a small demo was shown), label detection, shelf monitoring and the one I really thought useful for most businesses was scanning of new laws to determine legal implications for companies to be aware of. The course goes into more examples but that is just a flavor. There was a detailed example process covered: a Self-driving Procure to Pay process so definitely recommend checking this out further.

One of the coolest slides from the course covered the roadmap for the Intelligent Enterprise. I must admit, I do love a good slide and this one really excited me. Going back to the initial questions raised earlier in the blog I can see items such as Resume Matching, AI Expense Approvals, and Intelligent Customer Experience suite just some of them.

Figure:7 SAP Leonardo – Machine Learning Roadmap (openSAP Course 2018)

This slide was also cool – covering the architecture of the ML Foundation. I also liked the personas detailed for each of the main architecture components. This is really good to understand where each of the responsibilities lie.

Figure:8 SAP Leonardo – ML Foundation Architecture (openSAP Course 2018)


OK, I could carry on for a few more paragraphs but I need to move onto the next topic – SAP Leonardo – BIG DATA!

SAP Leonardo – Big Data

This is one area that I have dabbled in over the years (mainly SAP HANA) however I have not really had the time to check out the SAP Data Hub offering. This section of the course covered the growing complexity of companies landscapes which I have seen throughout the years. Traditional architectures definitely challenged by multi-structures, large data volumes and landscape scale-outs. Additionally, growing cloud enablement, data lakes and IoT add to the complexity. I liked the coverage of challenges including the Missing Link between Big Data and Enterprise Data and the lack of enterprise readiness – this is a massive one.

There was a nice analogy in this section about an innovative solution being like an Air traffic control tower – to know the airplanes that are coming and going, to know the conditions around it, and what processes are being performed. Particular liked this quote I have lifted from Unit 6.

“You don’t want to create another monolithic data solution, where you bring all the data. You want to leverage the landscape – you want to leverage different technologies, different stores, and different possibilities within the landscape, but then control it from a very central thing, without persisting, without owning, you know, without having a monolithic solution. And this is one of the reasons why we came up within our Leonardo portfolio with the SAP Data Hub.”  (Marc Hartz – openSAP course 2018).


Figure:9 SAP Leonardo – Big Data (openSAP Course 2018)

There is a lot more covered in this section including the streaming and processing of IoT data and some more detail on the technical components making up the SAP Leonardo – Big Data component however I will finish off this blog with what is coming up.

SAP Leonardo – Data Intelligence

This was the last topic covered in the course and talked about the importance of data and how important it was to extract the maximum value out of it which is what SAP Leonardo’s Data Intelligence is about. I particularly liked the key business outcomes covered:

“The three key business outcomes of data-driven innovation are to serve your customer better, go beyond their expectations at the right moment in time. Then, use connected data to reimagine entire business processes for operational excellence. ”

(Danielle Grossi – OpenSAP Course 2018)

SAP Cloud Platform is the key to make this happen – turning data into more useful insights and doing this with extremely agility! The course also covered the turnkey solution called Live Customer Cloud – coming with pre-integrated connectors and ready to use services across multiple industries. Definitely worth checking this out some more.

Figure:10 SAP Leonardo – Data Intelligence (openSAP Course 2018)

As I mentioned earlier the key to future organisations being successful is speed and one of the major elements of delivering the Intelligent Enterprise is SAP Cloud Platform and I am really grateful to be part of this wonderful SAP community currently working in this space.

Overall, I really enjoyed this course and it provided me with a base understanding of SAP Leonardo and the 6 key technologies within it. This course did not offer practical exercises that you could work through however it is important to note that this course is a precursor to more specific SAP Leonardo courses that are coming or courses that have already completed. They all complement each other to provide a deep learning and understanding to the individuals taking the course. Bravo openSAP and thanks once again for offering this.

Related Info:

The SAP Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation course is already scheduled to start on September 25th – enroll now – In my mind this is a must do course. I have enrolled and cannot wait to get into the learnings that will be offered. There has also been the SAP HANA Data Management Suite – Strategy Talk course running at the same time as this one which you can check out here – I also just reviewed the recent Analytics with SAP Cloud Platform course as well – part of the SAP Leonardo – Analytic capability. You can read it here.

I cannot wait for the SAP Leonardo ML foundation course and the future SAP Leonardo related courses to come.

As always, feel free to add your comments or reviews for this course as well. I do like hearing from those that also did the course and hearing their feedback so feel free to chime in with comments!

Thanks for reading!




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      Author's profile photo Nabheet Madan
      Nabheet Madan

      Great summary Phil Cooley

      Bang on, traffic management seriously need an overhaul. Most of the time while standing at a traffic light i am always wondering why can't they be intelligent.

       The one hope I do have for this technology is better traffic management – especially management of traffic lights. I am constantly frustrated by how dumb traffic management systems seem to be at times. I am hoping this technology improves this!

      Hopefully this amalgamation of IoT,Blockchain, ML, Analytics etc.. shall create a better world. I am also looking forward to go number of courses in Sep 2018 specially Portal, API and ML one.



      Author's profile photo Phil Cooley
      Phil Cooley
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Nabheet Madan appreciate your feedback yet again on the blog. Yes, I cannot wait for all of these great technologies to combine to produce better operating systems and processes in the world we live in. There is so much room for improvement - traffic management systems one of them :-).

      September seriously will be busy, heaps of courses. Enjoy mate and look out for another of my openSAP course reviews coming soon.....well after September.

      Author's profile photo Fausto Motter
      Fausto Motter

      Great content. Thanks for write..