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SAP names IoT services SAP Leonardo, debuts IoT kickstarter program

SAP has branded the IoT services portfolio it debuted last fall as SAP Leonardo, and it unveiled a kickstarter program for companies that want to develop IoT applications.

The big bundle of IoT services SAP introduced last fall now has a name -- SAP Leonardo. The company also announced a kickstarter program intended to help companies start internet-of-things-related projects.

SAP Leonardo encompasses a $2.2 billion investment in a portfolio of IoT services over the next four years. These take three primary forms: applications, tuck-in acquisitions, and geographically targeted IoT research and development labs, according to Hans Thalbauer, SAP senior vice president for extended supply chain and IoT.

"The new brand, SAP Leonardo, stands for the entire SAP IoT portfolio itself and the portfolio with end-to-end solutions," Thalbauer said. "There are six categories: The first three address the industrial IoT, and the next three expand into the internet of everything -- connected assets, connected product, connected fleet, the industrial internet of things and Industry 4.0 topics."

The kickstarter program is a part of the SAP Leonardo labs network designed to help companies interested in IoT applications to develop use cases. The program uses SAP line-of-business and vertical industry experts who will use design-thinking processes to match IoT technology with the customer's objectives and requirements, then develop pilots that can demonstrate real business value, Thalbauer said.

"The goal of the program is to help companies to adopt IoT solutions very quickly, which means that during the three-month project, we will develop -- together with the customer -- a business case based on KPIs [key performance indicators] to describe and calculate the value which the company will generate if they adopt it broadly for the enterprise," he said. "It also includes a roadmap that describes the steps you need to take from where you are today in order to adopt these solutions in a rapid fashion."

IoT helps paint a picture of driver behavior

One early user of SAP's IoT services is MSG Global Solutions, a systems integrator for the insurance and reinsurance industries based in Munich, Germany. MSG Global has developed an application called IoT Analyzer (IoTA) that works with SAP's Vehicle Insights IoT application. SAP Vehicle Insights gathers data from connected vehicles, and IoTA enriches this data with data from other sources to develop an accurate picture of drivers' behavior, according to the company. The application allows insurers to collect and analyze this behavioral data, which can then be used to develop better reports and insurance products.

"The connected car is a powerful, developing reality for insurers, but it's only the beginning. The future we envision includes collecting, measuring and sharing data with customers about their own environments, their behavior and their health," Peter Umscheid, MSG Global CEO, said in a press release. "Information provided by msg.IoTA can help individuals -- be they customers of banks, insurance companies or even auto manufacturers -- manage their own risks and reap rewards. This kind of insight is an essential element in the customer-focused digital and nondigital future."

What's in a name? Identity

SAP Leonardo is a smart way to move into the IoT cloud platform-as-a-service market, which is still in formative stages, according to Roy Murdock, an analyst at VDC Research, a Natick, Mass., market research firm that focuses primarily on IoT and embedded technology.

"SAP has a strong brand on the enterprise side with HANA, but needed to approach this new market in a new way. So, the Leonardo branding scheme is smart, as is emphasizing their $2.2 billion investment over the next four years, which is trying to keep pace with IBM -- $3 billion --  and other companies who are investing billions in the IoT platforms market," Murdock said.

Murdock said naming the IoT platform Leonardo makes it identifiable for people, much like IBM Watson or Amazon Alexa.

VDC Research categorized SAP as an enterprise IoT software-as-a-service player, with Oracle being the other main competitor in this market, Murdock explained. SAP is doing well against Oracle in the market, mainly because it has invested more resources and marketing efforts. However, because it doesn't have an infrastructure-as-a-service component in-house, it may be hindered because it needs to develop partnerships with IaaS players like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM or Google to run the IoT platform services.

The kickstarter program is necessary and interesting, but Murdock said it's not particularly unique.

"It's definitely an integral piece of the portfolio that's needed to get customer knowledge and adoption up to a level that SAP wants it to be at, because customer and end-user knowledge in the market is extremely low at the moment," he said. "We survey and talk to engineers all the time, and most of them have no idea if they're even using an IoT cloud platform or what they'll be using in three years. So, it's really at the beginning phase of the market where the education component is huge. SAP had to address that, and the kickstarter program is going to do that, but it's a little too early to say if it's going to be effective or unique, as it's just starting to roll out now."

The new branding and kickstarter program are interesting, but SAP still needs to show a more coherent approach to IoT services, according to Jon Reed, analyst and co-founder of Diginomica Ltd.

"These moves show that it's clear SAP is prioritizing IoT investments and responding to problems in the disparate nature of past IoT programs," Reed said. "However, I don't think the new name of the organization and new launch program proves anything. On the kickstarter side, I think SAP's work with startups to date has been a mix of some success, but I see some lost urgency there since Vishal Sikka departed that has not been replaced." Sikka is SAP's former executive board member for products and innovation, who left the company in 2014 and is now CEO of Infosys.

Next Steps

How do SAP's growing list of IoT products fit with ERP and analytics?

See how a large commercial truck company uses IoT to reduce costs and increase vehicle uptime.

The SAP Vehicles Network connects the IoT dots in vehicles.

As IoT services become more widespread, enterprises will need their Wi-Fi networks to be up for the challenge.

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