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SAP Business One and Artificial Intelligence

The hype around intelligent technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, natural language based chatbots, and business intelligence, has existed for some time but with little impact on SME businesses. These intelligent technologies have evolved to a point that they are affordable and accessible and so can bring high business value to SME companies as well.

Following Intelligent Enterprise strategy, SAP Business One is also aiming to bring intelligent services closer to its customers. From the overall Intelligent Business Document Processing workstream, we are focusing primarily on the traditional Order to Cash (sales) and Procure to Pay processes, which can provide high benefit from new intelligent technologies to SME businesses. Our priority is on the three main areas:

  • Usage of the intelligent technologies directly in the SAP Business One core – Considered the most relevant cases to be part of the system core.
  • Enablement of SAP Business One partners with capabilities of intelligent technologies and how to use them as part of the partner add-ons.
  • Usage of the SAP Intelligent RPA bots together with intelligent technologies. Enablement of SAP Business One partners with capabilities of SAP Intelligent RPA tool.

 

Usage of the intelligent technologies directly in the SAP Business One core

As part of the core of SAP Business One we are bringing in the Feature Pack 2102 the first version of the SAP Business One and Documentation Information Extraction service integration. The integration includes two parts of the functionality:

  • SAP Business One core
  • Documentation Information Extraction service from SAP AI Business Services portfolio

Let’s have a closer look at the ‘Document Information Extraction’ service integration feature, introduced in SAP Business One with release 2102.

The functionality is in detail described in the official SAP Note 3021904  however in general it covers the basic scenario:

  1. User receives an AP Invoice in electronic (PDF or JPG) or paper form.
  2. Save the electronic version (scan from printed form) to specific place (e.g. folder on HDD)
  3. The SAP Business One Electronic Documents Service will monitor the folder and if there is any document to process it will take it and send it to Document Information Extraction service on SAP Cloud Platform.
    • As part of this step the Electronic Documents Service will move the Invoice file from the original folder to the target folder for processed documents.
  4. When the document processing on Document Information Extraction Service is done, then Electronic Documents Service will process the results and store the data in the SAP Business One database. After user can create AP Invoice draft document pre-filled with the processed data and then continue his/her standard process of document creation within SAP Business One.

 

As part of the SAP Business One Core the provide functionality is part of the SAP Business One license.

The costs of the Document Information Extraction Service are not included in the SAP Business One license and must be purchased separately. The relevant package can be purchased directly on SAP Store (Connect to SAP Store by clicking on SAP store).

The packages of documents are in blocks of 100 documents (1 document = 3 pages) per month for a given price in the SAP store.

The price of the service has an attractive level either for SMEs especially that it gives you access to multiple types of business documents under same umbrella (invoices, purchase orders/sales orders, payment advices, etc.)

 

Enablement of SAP Business One partners with capabilities

The Document Information Extraction service is part of the bigger group of services called Artificial Intelligence Business Services (AI Business Services) provided by SAP. This approach is aimed to encourage the partners to use the services in their existing or new/planned add-on solutions for SAP Business One.

The possible scenario in which the services can be used are following:

  • Supplier Invoice upload automation – Document Information Extraction service
  • Creating Sales Order from Purchase Order – Document Information Extraction service + DATA Attribute Recommendation Services (autofill capability, propose missing attributes to the document from customer)
  • Incoming Documents Classification – Document Classification Services
  • Travel Receipts upload automation – Business Entity Recognition
  • Lead creation from business cards – Document Information Extraction service
  • Service Ticket Intelligence service supporting:
    1. Service Call management
    2. Customer Surveys results classification
  • Contract information enhancements – Business Entity Recognition
  • Reference documents identification – Business Entity Recognition

 

The interesting point is that if the customer will purchase e.g. the package for Document Information Extraction service with priority to use it for AP Invoices, the unused documents can be used for the other document types within the service such as Purchase Orders or Business cards. For example, customer wants to process monthly 350 documents using the Document Information Extraction service. He will buy 4 blocks of 100 documents which covers 400 documents. If there are used 350, the remaining 50 can be used for Business Cards scanning or Purchase Order scanning, if the services are included in the solution from the partner.

More information regarding Ai Business Services can be found on: Simplify Business Document Processing with SAP AI Business Services

For partners that wish to build solutions that leverage the AI Business Services for multiple customers, the Revenue Share model is the one recommended. Since this type of solution embeds Platform services, the new PE Build model is the ‘Platform’ which is 25% of the revenue generated by the respective solutions or a minimum royalty of the required services.

More information can be found on: PE Build model

 

Usage of the SAP Intelligent RPA bots together with intelligent technologies.

The last option is similar to previous one, but the difference is a possibility to utilize the Intelligent Robotic Process Automation (IRPA) tool from SAP for building automated solutions which combines:

  • Various different applications and SAP Business One
  • Various AI Business Services

It is a unique opportunity to combine various SAP products and as a result provide intelligent solution to the customers. SAP IRPA is a complete automation tool where the automatic solutions => bots are designed to be used in a different business processes in which they simplify the user life. It means the bot can do for the user  for example manual clicks, interpreting text-heavy communications, or making process suggestions. On top of that allows access to the external services, e.g. SAP AI Business Services which enhance the solution with artificial intelligence.  The bots can be then run for the specific business processes and needs in attended (visual) or unattended (hidden) modes.

The example of such solution was provided during the special call: Replay: SAP AI Business Services in SAP Business One in which it was demonstrated the use of IRPA for the scenario of creation of Sales Order from Purchase Order, specifically:

  • User receives the Purchase Order document in in electronic (PDF or JPG) or paper form from a customer. This is a starting point for the sales process in the company – there is a need to create a Sales Order for it.
  • User saves the electronic version (scan from printed form) to specific place (e.g. folder on HDD)
  • SAP IRPA tool bot will monitor the specific location and takes the electronic version of Purchase Order and provide it to Document Information Extraction service (Purchase Order document type).
  • The processed result is then provided to SAP Business One via the Service Layer connection and as a result the corresponding Sales Order is being created in the system

The visualization of the scenario in general:

 

The additional useful links:

Enter Next-Level Bot Building with SAP Intelligent RPA 2.0

Road Map SAP Document Information Extraction

Road Map SAP IRPA

Document Information Extraction service integration with SAP Business One – video

Document Information Extraction service integration with SAP Business One – SAP Note

Presentation: Setup SAP AI Business Services on SAP BTP for SAP Business One

There is only a short summary of possible scenarios and approaches here. The key point is to define the customer business need, set specific goal what there is need to achieve. Then customer should get in touch with the partner (or vice versa, partner can approach the customer with an idea) and elaborate on the possible approaches, considering which of the Intelligent Technology may fit to into daily operations of a particular company. As a result of this collaboration the solution of Intelligent Enterprise can be achieved.

Whats next?  

No matter what is your business area – Finance, Sales, or Procurement it’s undeniable that with the help of AI, companies can overcome various challenges. Feel free to share feedback or thoughts in a comment or ask questions in the Q&A tag area here: https://answers.sap.com/tags/01200615320800000816

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