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Machine learning technology can turn an avalanche of unstructured information – images, documents, text, videos, speech – into something with real business value like less down time in the field or on the factory floor, faster sales cycles, happier customers, and yes, greater revenue. To be sure, intelligent machines working in isolated parts of the organization aren’t new. What’s exciting now is how companies are infusing machine intelligence across the business for even greater benefits.

I sat down recently with Dr. Markus Noga, Senior Vice President of Machine Learning at SAP, for his take on machine learning and what people can expect to see at the upcoming SAPPHIRE NOW 2018 event, June 5-7 in Orlando, Florida.

Machine learning unlocks the ability to rethink business processes across the company from sourcing and human resources to finance and customer service,” said Noga. “SAP is committed to making all of our applications intelligent. We began with the SAP Cash Application in finance, and now we’re expanding machine learning across the entire accounts receivable value chain. In parallel, we’re working to bring intelligence into every solution in the SAP cloud portfolio, including the SAP S/4HANA Business Suite, procurement, customer service, the business network and recruiting.”

Let’s talk about intelligent bots

Conversational AI can help companies satisfy the spikiest customer demands. “In the United States alone, companies lose $1.6 trillion due to poor customer service,” said Noga. “Machine learning that understands what customers are asking for, coupled with the ability to integrate those requests deep into backend systems, allows companies to answer questions and fulfill requests much more efficiently and cost-effectively.”

Many customer service-intensive organizations in industries like utilities and insurance are already seeing business outcomes from conversational AI through Recast.AI, a recent SAP acquisition, now called SAP Conversational AI. “After putting their customer service on a bot, these companies have experienced very rapid implementation of projects in weeks, with just as rapid payback,” said Noga. “Machines can help companies achieve significant cost savings per incident while increasing customer service consistency and reliability.”

There’s no escaping intelligence

As for what to do next, Noga advised customers to experiment with free trials. “There’s a community of over 30,000 developers using SAP Leonardo Conversational AI to help get started with bots. Similarly, the SAP Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation provides support to get people up and running quickly with ready-to-use and retrainable intelligent services,” he said. “Companies can embed intelligence into their applications by turning on a switch or upgrading to the next version, which happens automatically in the cloud. For example, SAP Fieldglass has already seen 100,000 job postings classified by machine learning just in the past month.”

Expect the intelligent enterprise to take center stage at SAPPHIRE NOW 2018. “We will present our major offerings in an integrated way infused with intelligence,” said Noga. “You simply cannot escape intelligence.”

Here’s a sampling of the kind of real world examples people at SAPPHIRE NOW will experience at exciting demonstration theaters, expert roundtables and interactive conversations.

  • A major consumer goods manufacturer is using machine learning to quickly fix broken products. Customers simply send image of their products and machine learning quickly locates parts, speeding up repairs and replacements.

  • A global automotive manufacturer is using image recognition to help consumers learn more about vehicles and direct them to local dealer showrooms for sales efficiency.

  • A large metals and mining company is using machine learning to help field agents find spare parts for equipment based on pictures taken. Linked to backend SAP systems, the company can make ordering and reordering parts much easier, reducing downtime and costs.

  • A major French telecommunications firm, reduced the length of customer service conversations by 50 percent using chatbots which now fully manage 20 percent of all calls.

Intelligent applications aren’t just about smartening up one process in isolation. With the latest machine learning capabilities, leaders can make a series of decisions that make processes more efficient, strategies more effective, and outcomes more valuable to the business. That’s real intelligence.

Follow me @smgaler

This blog was originally posted on the SAP News Center.

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