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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

Let me to start this blog post with a personal anecdote I have previously recounted. In 1978, at the tender age of 15, I wrote my very first computer program - quite possibly before most of you were even born. I came into contact with Artificial Intelligence (AI) six years later, in 1984, when I was neck-deep in my computer science engineering studies, specializing in AI. At that juncture, AI was primarily associated with expert systems, and I successfully coded several such systems using LISP and Prolog II programming languages...

However, following this era, we entered a patch dubbed by many as the AI Winter - an extended period marked by subdued success levels of AI, contradictory to our high hopes and expectations.

This personal background explains my joy over the past three years as I've observed the booming of Machine Learning and Deep Learning, culminating with the buzz surrounding Large Language Models and Generative AI. Notably, Generative AI - a variant of artificial intelligence capable of producing text, images, videos, and an array of content based on its training data - is undoubtedly here for the long haul.

Indeed, according to analysts, Generative AI will profoundly impact the economy and increase productivity: it could add $2.6 to $4.4 trillion incremental value annually to the global economy, and many companies already started adopting it in their operations:

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At SAP, we integrate this technology with extensive industry-specific data and deep process knowledge to create innovative AI capabilities for the SAP applications you use every day. It’s built-in, relevant to your business, and responsible by design.

To dive deeper into various aspects of SAP’s approach to generative AI and its technical underpinnings, I recommend this blog post, the first of a series with Dr. Philipp Herzig, Head of Cross Product Engineering & Experience at SAP. Philipp explains clearly how SAP’s generative AI architecture is redefining business applications. I also highly recommend this self-paced openSAP course on "Generative AI at SAP".

And as part of SAP overall strategy, one of our key priorities for 2024 is to infuse AI in SAP Build and SAP Build Code, bringing advanced copilots based on generative AI capabilities with for easy application development and process automation. Let’s now deep dive to understand what it means… and what outcomes you will get out of that very soon.

AI in Application Development

Launched at SAP TechEd 2023, SAP Build Code is our turn-key development environment that combines runtime and design time capabilities with built-in solutions for DevOps and Application Lifecycle Management.

With SAP Build Code, SAP customers can

  • Achieve a clean core by developing side-by-side extensions with SAP Build Code on SAP BTP
  • Optimize developer efficiency with productivity tools, and application lifecycle management
  • Enables developers to build and extend powerful end-to-end business applications with programming language of choice
  • Leverage interoperability between classic development and low-code development tools

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As explained by Walter Sun, our Head of AI, Generative AI-Enabled developers are the architects of the future. So, in order to further improve developer efficiency, we are integrating Generative AI capabilities in SAP Build Code. In an extended product demo shown at SAP TechEd 2023 in Bangalore, we presented a use case for Code Generation including capGPT where Joule copilot is able to generate code in Business Application Studio based on text description: you can watch this TechEd session, read this presentation and this blog post.

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In SAP Build, the low-code tool for business users, we are leveraging AI capabilities through chatbot and voice command integration. With that, we will

  • provide citizen developers and IT administrators with in-app help provided by chatbot
  • facilitate collaboration of users with stakeholders during the lifecycle of the project, thanks to voice command integration

This enhancements are expected to be generally available in Q3 2024, as you can see in SAP Build Apps public roadmap.

AI in Process Automation

First steps 4 years ago: chatbots and document information extraction

In my previous blog post, I told the 5 years story of Process Automation at SAP, and for sure AI in Process Automation is also a long story. Indeed, as soon as we launched SAP Intelligent RPA, we worked together with AI colleagues in the SAP Leonardo area to connect AI capabilities with our automation tool. In the metaphor of the Vitruvian Man from Leonardo da Vinci that we used at that time to present our product portfolio, which I liked a lot, Machine Learning was the brain and SAP Conversational AI was the ears and mouth while SAP Intelligent RPA was the arms:

Vitruvian man SAP Leonardo.png

With SAP Conversational AI, the integration allows to trigger an RPA bot from a conversation with a chatbot. You can see how to get Grand Total from Invoice by searching for Order-Id entered  by a user in a chatbot and you will find here a very detailed tutorial on how to do it. You can also see an example in this video titled “SAP Intelligent RPA Integration With a Chatbot

With SAP AI Business Services – Document Information Extraction, the integration allows an RPA bot to extract data from PDFs. We have detailed tutorials explaining how to extract data from documents using Templates or Pre-Trained AI Models. You can watch this Virtual Workshop “Automate Your Invoice Processing with SAP Build Process Automation”:

Later on we also integrated third party AI capabilities such as Google: you can watch the replay of a SAP Community Call titled “Hyper-automate with Google AI Services and SAP Build Process Automation”: our SAP experts Deval Khatri and Chaitanya Priya talked Integration with Google Document AI and Google Vision AI. They also presented – slides here – “Sales Order Creation in SAP S/4HANA Cloud using Google Workspace and Google Document AI”:

Next step: Executable Process AI

Our aim for Process Automation is to go further, and we now want to provide Executable Process AI and more. Our solution, SAP Build Process Automation, will soon bring embedded generative AI capabilities to generate processes, automations and decisions. You can see in this video a preview of how Joule will help creating a new process workflow automation, with a business rule based on a decision table for approval.

SAP Build Process Automation will include

  • Conversational AI capabilities within the studio
  • Semantic data access and knowledge graph access within automation and process design time
  • Auto-generation of automations and process segments based on embedded intelligence within the studio

As benefits for our customers, our solution will

  • Offer a conversational experience for citizen developers
  • Accelerate time to value for authoring automations and processes
  • Standardize SAP application access for automations through a semantic access layer fostering reuse and fail-safe connectivity

This is planned for Q2 2024, and you can discover all the improvements planned in Process Automation  by browsing SAP Build Process Automation public roadmap. You can watch the demo shown at SAP TechEd 2023.

AI in Digital Experience

As you know, SAP Build Work Zone is the 3rd component of our SAP Build low-code offering. And of course it will also embark generative AI capabilities.

As presented at SAP TechEd 2023, SAP Joule, our AI copilot that truly understands your business, is already integrated into SAP Start.

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We will now integrate SAP Joule into SAP Build Work Zone, standard and advanced edition. Our customers will use it as an AI assistant, that knows their unique role and acts as their work copilot across SAP applications and business systems, making every touchpoint count and every task simpler.

This will be first available in SAP Start as part of an “Early Adopter Care Program”, which has not yet started and will be announced soon. We will keep you posted, and you can also track all the improvements planned in Digital Experience  by browsing SAP Build Work Zone public roadmap.

SAP AI is for your business!

You read that already: SAP Business AI is Relevant, Reliable, Responsible. Beyond SAP Build and SAP Build Code, AI is now all over SAP portfolio, as you can see in this infographic and in this image:

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Discover how you can benefit from SAP Business AI built into your core business processes — connecting finance, supply chain, procurement, sales, marketing, human resources, and IT!