SAP toughened its Leonardo IoT platform to now allow customers to embed IoT data into business processes with all of its line-of-business solutions such as S/4HANA and C/4HANA.
Customers also have cloud-to-cloud interoperability with Microsoft Azure IoT Hub to give customers more choice in device management. IoT telemetry obtained with the Azure IoT Hub will be combined with SAP business apps to derive greater business insights, said Elvira Wallis, senior vice president for Leonardo IoT, in an interview.
Leonardo IoT was first unveiled in 2016, and over time has been connected to various SAP business applications such as SAP’s replenishment or predictive maintenance software.
“What you have now is a single IoT specification powering all the business solutions at SAP,” Wallis said. “All of these will be totally interoperable and compatible.”
SAP’s SuccessFactors and procurement tools like Ariba and Digital Supply Chain, are also some of the apps now compatible with the IoT platform.
Wallis described an operational example of the Leonardo platform working with its C/4HANA product. She explained that data from a faulty machine or part in the field could be transmitted through C/4HANA to inform a company of the severity of a needed repair. With that information, an in-house technician would be dispatched for a more serious repair. For a less involved repair, a company might decide to save money by sending a lower-tiered technician. And, the proper spare part could be found and delivered with the technician on the first trip.
SAP in recent months has identified dozens of companies using some elements of Leonardo. Most recently it named Kaiserwetter, an energy asset management company based in Germany. Kaiserwetter relies on Leonardo IoT for its Aristoteles data service platform, which is used by customers to maximize the financial and technical performance of renewable wind and solar energy.
Kaiserwetter has used SAP Leonardo IoT to monitor maintenance needs on wind turbines, which can be compared to commodity pricing and revenues to determine the optimum time for a turbine repair, Wallis said.
Pricing for the new Leonardo IoT will come in five tiers, with the least expensive tier for a few devices that can allow a customer to start small and grow later. “IoT is still at the place where customers want to start small,” Wallis said. SAP will also introduce a pay-as-you-go model.
SAP’s Cloud Platform updates also include a software developer kits (SDKs) for Android and iOS to allow developers to create native apps for enterprises that can be integrated with business process. And, a new SAP Cloud Platform Discovery Center allows customers to view use cases and project management tools to help them more quickly develop applications.
SAP is competing against many hundreds of similar products on the market. Those include platforms from Oracle, Salesforce, and Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google, to name a few.
However, Wallis explained that Leonardo IoT is “very unique” partly because SAP already has 430,000 customers globally. She asked: “Who else in the market can do this?”
Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said existing SAP customers will be the biggest beneficiaries of the new Leonardo IoT.
“If you are an SAP shop already, Leonardo IoT is attractive,” Gold said. “If you are starting IoT from scratch, Leonardo is probably not the easy path to go nor the least infrastructure required to be put in place. If you are going to a cloud-only strategy, then AWS IoT or Google IoT may be easier.”
Steve Hilton, an analyst at MachNation, said SAP has traditionally approached Leonardo from a data management perspective, but has needed to supply both data and device management for the best enterprise insights.
“I always recommend that enterprises benchmark several IoT platforms before picking the one to use,” Hilton said.
Gold added that IT shops need to start with a small IoT project and “work up from there” while making sure adequate security is built in.
In the past year, both Gartner and Forrester ranked Leonardo among the top IoT software providers. In May, Gartner ranked Leonardo as a “visionary” product along with products from PTC and Hitachi out of a total of 11 products evaluated. However, Gartner cautioned that SAP’s IoT products are heavily integrated with other SAP cloud services and apps, “limiting the appeal to industrial enterprises without a sizable SAP installed base.”
In August, Forrester evaluated 15 companies and ranked SAP a leader along with IBM, C3 IoT, Microsoft, and PTC. Forrester said SAP’s Leonardo enhances SAP’s Cloud Platform Internet of Things, but faulted SAP for its “confusing” portfolio terminology that “some customers may find hard to decipher.”