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AI for SAP Customers

SAP

Aligning to the changing times, SAP, the ERP giant has rightfully invested in Artificial Intelligence technology. Its AI solution (Joule) stands apart from the crowd of ‘me-too’ products. This article talks about its unique differentiators and how it would add value to the CXO’s decision-making process.

Introduction –

Considering the buzz Artificial Intelligence (AI) has created globally since the advent of ChatGPT, most of the CIOs are thinking of how best to leverage AI for their organizations.

While SAP offers the solid foundation for all the back-end business processes, it added OLAP (On Line Analytical Processing) capabilities, performance punch and snazzy User Interface through Fiori in its SAP S/4 HANA offerings (available on Public Cloud as well as Private Cloud).

It also made Digital Robots or bots available (which use RPA – Robotic Process Automation) to perform manual, time-consuming, repetitive work or tasks in SAP. To take the automation to the next level, SAP has launched its own AI tool called Joule.

“Artificial Intelligence is the transformative force in today’s corporate world. When the best-run businesses run SAP, it is of paramount importance that you leverage AI on top of it. “

Founder & CEO, Magnum Primus Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

Joule –

Joule is a new generative AI tool which can work on unstructured inputs, develops its own logic and brings in unattended automation.

it is an SAP solution coming under SAP BTP’s AI cloud. Therefore, Joule is an advantage for SAP users because it was built with only SAP S/4HANA and SAP BTP applications in mind. Knowing and understanding the system landscape and its global users is an integral component of Joule in comparison to other generative AI solutions available in market.

It leverages the deep industry knowledge and vast experience of working with 28,000+ SAP customers and 300 million+ SAP users over the last 30+ years. In addition, SAP’s Joule technology was developed in partnership with technology titans like IBM, Google and Microsoft.

  • Joule – A natural language generative AI copilot
  • Joule is embedded into SAP applications from HR to finance, supply chain, procurement and customer experience, as well as into SAP Business Technology Platform. It is pre-trained with SAP business data and business processes
  • Naturally, it provides out of the box integration with backend SAP systems
  • Provides a conversational UI integrated with SAP application
  • Works by sorting through and contextualizing data from multiple systems (Data contextualization – Adding related information to data to make it more actionable. This can mean including background information, patterns, trends, etc. to help a reader make sense of what the data is really conveying)
  • Compliant with AI ethics, GDPR and privacy controls while maintaining SOC-II compliance

As with any generative AI tool, Joule only gets better over time, as the global SAP user community provides the key information that feeds Joule. This will inevitably become the backbone for SAP going forward. Undoubtedly, this is the vision for SAP, where Joule will be the de facto standard for all its SAP products and applications, forever changing the enterprise ERP landscape.  

Joule’s initial release was for the SAP SuccessFactors platform, distributed through specific global data centres in November of 2023. It was later added to SAP Analytics Cloud in March of 2024.

It is getting added to SAP Customer Experience, SAP Customer Relationship Management, SAP Ariba and SAP BTP for SAP Build Process Automation and cockpit.

Currently, Joule is getting rolled out to SAP S/4HANA Cloud customers.

How do you work with Joule?

Users may simply ask a question or frame a problem in plain language and get intelligent answers drawn from the wealth of business data across the SAP portfolio and third-party sources, retaining context.

Imagine, for example, a customer asking Joule for help understanding production of say automobile batteries from the plants in N. America. Joule can identify underperforming plant, link to other data sets that reveal a supply chain issue, and automatically connect to the supply chain system to offer potential fixes for the manufacturer’s review. Or in HR it may help write appropriate job descriptions and generate relevant interview questions.

In short, similar to other AI assistants, you’ll be able to communicate with Joule using native languages and chat. You can ask it questions like: “How many sales orders were created last month in West region? What is the outstanding balance from customer XYZ as on date?” In response, Joule will intelligently provide you with accurate information.

Hardware consideration for deploying Joule –

This is an oft neglected topic which needs due consideration. Considering the huge data (structured, unstructured) it would be accessing (and the lightning-fast responses we would be expecting), adequate system memory needs to be planned. A rule of thumb is to provision at least 1.5 times and ideally twice as much system memory as the total GPU memory. Other factors like stream requirement, edge computing sizing, performance and scalability need to be weighed in suitably.

Difference between Joule & SAP Conversational AI –

Some of the early adopters have been using SAP Conversational AI which is more of a platform that enables us to build and deploy chatbots whereas Joule is a natural-language, generative AI copilot. SAP conversational AI is independent, generic chatbot framework wherein customers have to build their own content, whereas Joule is directly embedded into SAP applications; customers get the predefined Best Practices Assistants bundled into their Cloud subscription. While SAP conversational AI is getting phased out, Joule is getting all the attention (and investment) to leverage the massive customer base of 28.000+ SAP customers.

Some of the Use cases of Joule –

  • Generate recruiting job descriptions and interview questions
  • Connect individual skills, attributes, strengths and preferences to both people and experiences
  • Predict customer demand with demand planning
  • Identify highly qualified talent in lesser time with intelligent resume analysis
  • Create sales orders efficiently from unstructured data
  • Sales – Generate account synopsis, lead booster, draft email response
  • Marketing – Offer relevant recommendations based on customer behaviour, purchase history and browsing patterns
  • Deliver messages at the right time and through the right channel to increase customer engagement

Conclusion-

It is important to note that Joule is not just another AI tool; it is a transformative natural-language, generative AI copilot that promises to revolutionize the way businesses are run.

It is only matter of time before we would be seeing Joule helping SAP customers substantially in the CXO-level decisions like Make or Buy, pricing decisions for product launch in a particular market, whether to keep investing in some not-so-attractive LoBs (Line of Business) or not, whether to grow organically or go for acquisition etc.

About the Author –

Mr. Prashant Pimpalekar, founder & CEO of Magnum Primus Solutions Pvt. Ltd., has 30 years of rich work experience in IT Consulting/SAP with various tier-one organizations like NTT Data, Tech Mahindra. Besides the deep SAP knowledge and diverse work experience, he has a flair for writing. His management and technical articles have been published in Dataquest, Communication Today, Times of India, Corporate Citizen & EnterpriseITWorld.com.

He was a speaker at JSUG (Japan SAP Users Group) in Tokyo and Osaka, was a speaker at Dun&Bradstreet CXO conference, Mumbai & was recently invited by Symbiosis Institute of Management (Pune) as a guest speaker.

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