Welcome to the New Intelligence Era (courtesy of SAP)

Published on the 10/05/2018 | Written by Jonathan Cotton

SAP continues to target APAC with new Singapore Leonardo Centre launch. iStart was there to check it out…

“Singapore is an economic hub,” said keynote speaker and president of SAP APJ, Scott Russell on Tuesday at the launch event of SAP’s latest Singaporean digs earlier this week,  “Now SAP is looking to make it an innovation hub too.”

The location, known long-form as the SAP Leonardo Center Singapore, will act, according to the company, as the ‘front-end’ for the company’s cutting edge Leonardo “live technology-delivery environment” in the region. Think of it as the human face of SAP’s digital innovation platform in Asia.

As with many events like this, there was plenty of blue-sky-thinking on display, with Russell saying the opening is just a small part of SAP’s plan to demonstrate the potential (or “the art of the possible”) of cloud-enabled digital innovation.

Give customers easy access to SAP tech, says Russell, and they’ll test new ideas at speed, “fail fast”, and, hopeful, scale any successes quickly.

There’s good reason for SAP’s Asia/downunder focus. The region is a hotspot for cloud adoption and innovation, something SAP is all too aware of with cloud revenues for both Australia and New Zealand having surpassed software revenues for the company in the last year.

Little wonder then too that the company is looking to bring more local SME players into the SAP fold – SMEs make up about 80 percent of SAP customers.

If nothing else, the Singapore opening certainly expands SAP’s footprint in the region, adding to the three local Innovation Centers and four SAP Labs already launched, including last month’s opening of a Next-Gen Lab in Melbourne.

But SAP insists there’s more at stake. It’s all part of the company’s commitment, Russell says, to being a “purpose-driven” business.

“We aim to leverage the SAP Leonardo Center Singapore as a think tank to drive purpose-led innovation that will ultimately improve the lives of one billion people and deliver the Intelligent Enterprise for over 70,000 customers in APJ by 2022.”

How such an ambition would be achieved or measured remained unclear throughout, but certainly seemed sincere, alongside the software giant’s more traditional growth ambitions for the Asia Pacific Japan region.
“Innovation for its own sake is worthless,” says Maggie Buggie, SVP, Global Head of SAP Leonard Services. “It’s the application of insight that matters to customers”.

“Innovation for its own sake is worthless. It’s the application of insight that matters to customers.”

“It’s easy top model cool stuff, but it’s a lot harder to create real business value for customers.”

While true, plenty of cool, modelled stuff was nevertheless on display at the event. Smart automated factories for example (at Lego scale) showcased just how ‘hands off’ some manufacturing processes (think plant maintenance, inspection and optimisation) could ultimately become, beside smart stadium mock ups, smart home demonstrations, robot-populated factory floors (with said robots in attendance), sensor-equipped buses and drivers and even VR-powered site inspections among the ambitious projects – in varying statuses of real-world rollout – on display.

Fancy displays and jingoism aside however, for SMEs, easy access to IoT, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Big Data, Analytics and Data Intelligence capabilities is valuable. By giving smaller players greater freedom to experiment (“faster innovation with less risk”, as president of SAP Leonardo and Analytics, Mala Anand put it), as well as access to a robust ecosystem of universities, techies and accelerators, SAP does have an opportunity to stimulate innovation in the APAC region – and turn a tidy profit at the same time.

“This is an era of chaos and possibility,” enthused Buggie, “and this is why we’re so excited at SAP.”

“Human expectation and technological capacity are now in alignment and the SAP Cloud Platform can be at the heart of that.”

Note: The author attended #LeonardoNow courtesy of SAP.

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