SAP Announces Multiple New AI Capabilities at TechEd

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Key Takeaways

⇨ Newly announced SAP Build Code will provide AI-powered application development

⇨ SAP Build Process Automation will be more deeply integrated with SAP Signavio and SAP Integration Suite

⇨ AI Foundation for SAP BTP will provide a means to develop generative-AI powered extensions

Following the recent announcement of generative AI assistant Joule, SAP announced multiple new AI-related capabilities at SAP TechEd in Bangalore. Many of these new AI capabilities are part of SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) including AI-powered application development, accelerated enterprise automation, the ability to host models from DataRobot in SAP AI Core, and AI Foundation for SAP BTP. All of these innovations use generative AI to expand the capabilities of SAP solutions with new features or modules.

Generative AI has been top of mind for many organizations for most of the last year and SAP is taking three different approaches to bringing AI to their users. The first is embedded AI like Joule. As an AI assistant, Joule is a natural-language copilot that is intended to offer contextualized insights across SAP solutions. The second is to include AI as part of the product portfolio. This includes new business capabilities that are powered by AI, business processes that are optimized using AI, and AI-infused components for SAP BTP. The third approach is AI Foundation for SAP BTP, a specific foundational model that is based on business data and an orchestration layer that ensures security, privacy, compliance, and ethics in the AI process.

The goal of AI Foundation is to allow developers to create AI and generative AI-powered extensions and applications for SAP BTP. It will include AI services, generative AI management, AI workload management, access to business data and context, and lifecycle management based on SAP AI Core, SAP AI Launchpad, and SAP HANA Cloud. Later this quarter, AI Foundation will also include a generative AI hub in SAP AI Core which will provide access to a range of large language models (LLMs) from different providers. This will allow, for example, AI development teams to submit a prompt to multiple LLMs, compare the generated outcomes to identify the model that is best suited to the task, and provide greater control to developers.

In addition, AI Foundation for SAP BTP will also connect to newly announced vector capabilities in SAP HANA Cloud. A vector datastore will allow SAP HANA Cloud to manage unstructured data, for example text, images, or PDF files in vectors or embeddings which provide long-term memory and better context to AI models. This will make it easy to find and retrieve similar objects quickly when users ask a question using natural language. SAP HANA Cloud will natively store and search vector embeddings and numerical representations of objects, along with business data.

In the area of AI-powered application development, SAP announced SAP Build Code. SAP Build, launched in 2022, provided a low-code/no-code application development capability that was part of SAP BTP. This allowed organizations moving to SAP S/4HANA to quickly create extensions and follow SAP’s clean core framework. SAP is now extending this with a simplified professional coding solution SAP Build Code which includes AI code generation with Joule copilot and is optimized for Java and JavaScript application development. Joule will provide the ability to both generate code and create data models and test data for applications. SAP Build Code provides other benefits to developers including the ability to integrate seamlessly to both SAP and non-SAP data and systems, as well as simplified API management that lets developers create apps and processes with easy access to data without losing business context.

SAP Build Code will be integrated with SAP BTP Business Application Studio and SAP’s Cloud Application Programming model. Developers will be able to generate entities, relations, and service projections, as well as business logic for services. SAP Build Code will be generally available in the first quarter of 2024.

What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?

SAP’s first generative AI announcement only made these capabilities available to customers on a RISE with SAP or GROW with SAP contract. This was further detailed with the announcement of RISE with SAP Premium Plus which included the generative AI assistant Joule, sustainability features, and advanced finance and cash-flow capabilities. While this has not changed, and it is not currently clear how the access to Joule will work in SAP Build Core for those who are not on a RISE with SAP contract, the AI announcements at TechEd provide multiple means for organizations to leverage generative AI.

For example, AI Foundation for SAP BTP will eventually provide access to multiple LLMs through the generative AI hub in SAP AI Core. While it is common to think that SAP BTP and SAP S/4HANA go hand in hand, many users are leveraging SAP BTP with SAP ECC or completely independently from their ERP system. This should provide a means for organizations to access generative AI capabilities beyond those that SAP is embedding in some solutions. Exactly how the licensing for these capabilities is finalized is currently unknown, but opportunities will hopefully exist to leverage generative AI even without using RISE with SAP.

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