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Upon sudden death of my father last month in Mumbai, I had to make an emergency overseas trip on short notice. Notwithstanding my intense grief, I was indelibly impressed by the compassion and consideration shown by front-line staff at SFO and Mumbai airports, the airlines personnel and myriad of other business entities that I had interacted with, all of whom went out of their way to accommodate my needs.  Companies live their brand in their customer interactions. Customer experience is key to building loyal customers.

It appears axiomatic that a major part of customer experience would be addressing customer needs the moment they arise. In my case above, it was episodic – I (as a customer) let the various entities know my needs and they tried to address them as painlessly, and as quickly as possible without me having to expend my energies. This was what mattered most to me in my hour of need.

Back at work, I asked myself how could we support our customers, in business-to-business settings, to deliver an exceptional customer experience? Here's where technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) and Edge Computing can enable you, as a business entity, to transition from episodic touchpoints with your customers, to a continuously connected mode6, anticipating and serving many customer needs, sometimes even before the customers become aware of the need themselves.

Imagine if you could provide your customers what they need at exactly the right time at the right place? Customers get a dramatically improved experience, and you can boost your business’s operational efficiencies, lower your costs and even transition to new experience driven economic business models. The right place is most often not headquarters, rather an Edge location – a manufacturing plant, a retail outlet, a packaging warehouse, a branch office, an offshore oil rig, a remote mine, a ship in the middle of the ocean, an aeronautics and defense vehicle in motion. The “edge” could be stationary or moving.

IoT lets you connect the real-world, devices, equipment, sensors and wearables, bridging physical world and digital world increasing your situational awareness of customer needs at the edge. Now, combine this situational awareness with the ability to automate a real time response to the situation, without even requiring the customer’s active participation - by automatically executing the appropriate business process or transaction (atomic unit of business logic) that addresses the customer’s need immediately. You are on your way to deliver a phenomenal customer experience.

Let’s make it tangible3 – what if you could trigger a field service call automatically and instantly based on equipment sensor data at the plant, thus reducing unplanned equipment downtimes? What if you could  trigger replenishment based on remote monitoring of raw material consumption conveniently and efficiently? Or even detect a worker at the mining site had fallen and trigger a safety incident right away. And if you could bring this compute and business logic to the edge, so it is instantaneous and immediate without latency (delays), immune to bandwidth constraints, and is not dependent on an always-on two-way reliable network communication with the headquarters or the data center. And what if you could you do all this knowing that your edges will automatically stay in synch with your digital core (which is your system of record), when connectivity is restored.

We are at the cusp of a tectonic shift - just like the Internet had changed our communications layer, we are starting to see compute and application logic being extended and distributed to the edge.

SAP Leonardo IoT Edge | SAP Edge Services is SAP’s IoT Edge Computing product that allows you to extend your Intelligent Enterprise business processes to the edge, so your business can respond immediately based on real world IoT data. With 77% of the world’s transactions touching an SAP system, you have a powerful arsenal with SAP Edge Services, to extend the kaleidoscope of applicable transactions to the edge, to enhance your customer experience. Combine this, with the power of Leonardo IoT in the cloud, to aggregate across multitudinous edges to learn and make smart adjustments to your portfolio of products and services to further enhance your customer’s experience.

SAP Edge Services can run on devices as small as a Raspberry Pi34,5 pictured above. It extends your Intelligent Enterprise application logic to the edge and ensures the edge processes stay in synch with your digital core and your systems of record - SAP S/4HANA, SAP C/4HANA, Digital Supply Chain and other Line of Business Applications.  And, wait a minute, did we talk scale? Well, my quintessential real-life example is our productive customer, performing a cumulative million plus asynchronous transactions daily, at thousands of edge nodes, and synchronizing with digital core, at headquarters3.

While I am super excited about SAP Edge Services, I want to stress that it is not the magic bullet for every setting or every process. You and your customers might differ in the readiness to embrace edge computing depending on where you are in your digital transformation journey.

A final point: At the end of the day, with SAP, you have operational data from SAP’s transactional systems, Experience data from Qualtrics, and IoT data (where and when applicable) for situational awareness, and automatic and instantaneous process execution from SAP Edge Services – a winning trifecta to deliver a break-through customer experience  – one that is exceptional, contextual and provides an immediacy of outcomes.

The positive customer experience from my somber trip to Mumbai upon my father’s passing, still reverberates in my mind.  Delivering exceptional customer experience will gain you loyal customers, reduce churn and help you achieve sustainable competitive advantage.

Come, join Elvira Wallis (SVP and Global Head of IoT) and I at SAPPHIRE Now1 at the below sessions to learn more from real-life customer case studies how you too can leverage SAP Edge Services2, to elevate your customer experience.  And I can assure you - we'll have some exciting announcements on SAP Edge Services coming up at SAPPHIRE NOW (which I cannot share just yet).

I've included helpful links and references below for more information. I am looking forward to seeing many of you at SAPPHIRE NOW!

  1. SAPPHIRE NOW sessions

    • Unlock the Intelligent Enterprise through the Internet of Things, Elvira Wallis, Wednesday  8th May, 12.30 to 12.50 PM

    • Embed IoT data into C/4 HANA to manage Field Service, Wednesday, 8th May 11.00 AM to 11.20 AM

    • Extend your Intelligent Enterprise to the Edge with SAP Edge Services, Subha Ramachandran, Thursday, May 9th 230 PM to 2.50 PM

  2. SAP Edge Services home page on

  3. Real life customer examples with SAP Edge Services

  4. Team AkzoNobel Debuts SAP’s Biometric Sensor Technology in Volvo Ocean Race

  5. SAP Equips Team AkzoNobel at Volvo Ocean Race with Biometric Sensor Technology Powered by SAP Leonar...

  6. The age of Continuous Connection, HBR, May-June 2019