May 6, 2019

SAP software upgrade encourages artificial intelligence and robotics

Company wants to automate 50 percent of manual ERP tasks within three years.

By DC Velocity Staff

In a series of updates to its enterprise resource planning (ERP) software platform, German technology vendor SAP AG has made it easier to customize apps and to add artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to logistics processes, the company said today.

In the short term, the upgrades to SAP's S/4HANA product could help companies improve their business results, automate business processes, and make accurate predictions for better decisions, the company said. And in the long run, the additions will help SAP move toward its goal of automating 50 percent of manual ERP tasks in the next three years. This version-1905 release of SAP S/4HANA Cloud already supports more than 100 out-of-the-box AI and robotic process automation-powered capabilities, the company said.

The move is SAP's second move to upgrade its ERP capabilities for logistics in a week, after announcing that it had integrated Uber Freight's digital freight matching application to the ERP platform, saying that move enhanced S/4HANA's "intelligent process automation."

Other software providers have also been rushing to add AI capabilities to their logistics tools, such as the computer retail giant Dell Inc.'s recent announcement that it had launched an "Enterprise AI" data platform by teaming with Noodle.ai, a tech startup that Dell has backed with venture funding.

While automating business processes may hold allure for sophisticated users, SAP also acknowledged that many of its customers will want to apply AI to their businesses incrementally, making gradual transitions from on-premise to cloud platforms. To support that approach, the company enables users to selectively apply advanced process chains, group reporting, advanced financial close, and central procurement in the cloud, while keeping other SAP S/4HANA ERP capabilities in existing environments.

In another expansion of its cloud-computing capabilities, SAP also said that it plans for its S/4HANA Cloud to run on Google Cloud Platform in the third quarter of 2019, and to run on Alibaba Cloud by the the fourth quarter, extending SAP's reach to China. This will be followed by S/4HANA's availability in 2020 on the Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure public cloud services platforms.

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