This interview is part of an ongoing series VDC conducts with IoT and embedded software solution providers to share views on their company, products, and state of the market.
Nils Herzberg is the Global Head for the Go to Market Strategy for Internet of Things & Strategic Partnerships. Reporting to the General Manager for IoT & Digital Supply Chain, he drives major elements of SAP’s partnership strategy, customer strategy, and OEM strategy as well as focus scenarios, market units, and industries.
VDC: To get started, could you summarize what SAP Leonardo IoT offers to potential customers?
Nils: SAP Leonardo IoT is a part of the broader SAP Leonardo portfolio, a cloud based offering running on SAP Cloud Platform and including IoT, Analytics, ML, Blockchain, Big Data and Data Intelligence capabilities. Our SAP Leonardo IoT offering is the difference between knowing and guessing, between realtime and batch. It helps customers to collect, store and process data, thus converting data into a insight. We help customers in all industries, and all LoBs to collect, store and process the data, which results in better insight and the automation of business processes. At the end this leads to better business outcomes, such as more revenue, less waste, new business models, and better customer satisfaction.
VDC: How did Leonardo IoT come into existence – what teams or technologies within SAP did it evolve from?
Nils: This has been a bigger and diverse effort which was brought together under Tanja Rueckert’s leadership in 2016. The kickoff was a showcase with SAP customer Trenitalia, which was followed by the SAP Leonardo brand and a reframing of the brand in May 2017 to its current positioning.
VDC: How does Leonardo IoT fit into SAP’s overall portfolio and integrate with SAP’s core ERP/CRM software and cloud capabilities?
Nils: SAP Leonardo is - mostly - a platform offering which is complementary to S/4 HANA. It is open to other legacy solutions as well; an SAP backend is not a prerequisite. SAP Leonardo IoT runs on SAP Cloud Platform; thus, it is an integral part of our cloud solution offering.
VDC: What do you see as the largest challenge for SAP when it comes to the IoT? How are you working to overcome this challenge?
Nils: I think that the challenge is a positive one. How do we make sure that IoT is the way we will all work in a few years from now? This is the same challenge the industry faced with mobility, which has now become ubiquitous.
VDC: What has been the most exciting development within Leonardo IoT over the past year?
Nils: I personally think that it is the SAP Asset Intelligence Network. This is our third level of integration and helps customers bridge the gap between the owners, the operators, and the makers of things.
VDC: Looking forward, what do you see as the most exciting opportunities for Leonardo IoT?
Nils: I am one of the luckiest employees at SAP to be able to look at this topic every day. The exciting opportunities are those where our customers take us by complete surprise and show us how they use our solutions.
VDC: Is there anything else you’d like to leave us and our readers with today?
Nils: IoT is a journey – make sure that you are on that journey.
SAP understands that ideation, creative problem solving, and extremely close customer connections will be key for pushing the adoption of often misunderstood technologies that many in the enterprise or legacy world might roll their eyes at. Accordingly, the skill set of a typical Leonardo “innovation” leader is a pragmatic mix of technology and business acumen, often with a strong vertical focus. In the heterogeneous and industry-focused world of IoT devices and networks, SAP’s focus on design-thinking and IoT deployment customization will serve it well in a market where value is often added through specific domain knowledge.
The challenge for SAP IoT lies in differentiating itself from the numerous other horizontal platforms on the market – close competitors AWS IoT, Microsoft Azure IoT Suite, Google Cloud IoT, and Oracle IoT Cloud are currently receiving major attention and investment. Inside sales to current SAP customers will continue to power SAP Leonardo IoT in the near term, but long term the company will need to find innovative ways to integrate the new technologies (blockchain, machine learning, etc.) under development in the broader Leonardo portfolio into its IoT products to maintain a differentiator for non-SAP clients.
We look forward to following SAP closely as its portfolio continues to develop.
Interested in participating in VDC’s “The IoT & Embedded Technology Beat” series of interviews? Please reach out and let us know.
View the 2018 IoT & Embedded Technology Research Outline to learn more about VDC and our upcoming coverage.