SAP Leonardo - Machine Learning made easy?
More than EUR 2 billion invested by SAP within three years and a very self-confident product name - Leonardo is SAP's challenge to dominate the market on current hype topics such as machine learning, blockchain, design thinking and much more.
What are the benefits and purposes of SAP Leonardo?
First, we need to clarify exactly what SAP Leonardo means. At an early stage, SAP Leonardo was synonymous with SAP's Internet of Things services and functions, whereas SAP CLEA was synonymous with machine learning services and functions. Since the announcement of the large-scale investment offensive at SAPPHIRE NOW 2017, SAP has increasingly attempted to bundle its activities around innovation topics such as machine learning, big data, analytics, and IoT under a single unified appearance. SAP Leonardo is therefore not a single product that can be licensed and implemented, but rather the umbrella brand for SAP's services in the following areas:
- big data
- design thinking
- block chain
- machine learning
- data intelligence
SAP Leonardo - not all new, but better.
SAP's Machine Learning functions and services are not new inventions either, but are based on the following SAP products, some of which have already been placed on the market. These products, however, benefit from SAP's investments as part of the Leonardo program and are continuously developed further accordingly.
The machine learning components within the Leonardo program consist of SAP Predictive Analytics, the HANA Predictive Analytics Library and the Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation.
SAP Predictive Analytics is available in both cloud-based and on-premise versions, which can be licensed as a standalone software solution and used in conjunction with an SAP HANA database. SAP Predictive Analytics provides a graphical user interface with which the functions of the HANA Predictive Analytics Library can be used to train and subsequently use machine learning models in a simplified manner.
SAP HANA Predictive Analytics Library (PAL) is part of the HANA Application Function Library, which is delivered with the SAP HANA database (cloud-based and on-premise). The HANA PAL provides functions in SQLScript procedures to train or use a machine learning model and to generate corresponding predictions or decisions through the model. The latest member of the Leonardo Machine Learning product range is the Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation. This is SAP's strategic focus and is offered in the SAP cloud platform. The creation of a model and its later use are done via Application Programming Interface (API). SAP is taking particular account of the new development paradigm of side-by-side extensibility, which separates additional developments from core ERP and thus paves the way for two-speed IT.
What can the SAP Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation do?
SAP offers two different types of functions within the Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation.
The Machine Learning Predictive Services provide functions for which, as usual in machine learning projects, a data set as representative as possible must first be provided, with which the system trains a model, i.e. learns, in order to then be able to use the following functions, among others:
Clustering is used to form groups of the same type. With SAP Clustering Service, you can, for example, quickly segment customers or automatically sort articles into the right merchandise categories.
The Forecast Service forecasts future numerical values based on previously known data. However, this is not just a simple extrapolation. More unknown factors are identified in the data, with which, for example, sales planning can be carried out more robustly or workload planning more specifically than with purely statistical methods.
With outliner analysis, you can find outliers in data that would sink in the crowd. This can be used, for example, to analyze the material master for possible maintenance errors or to detect unusual ordering behavior on the part of customers in order to prevent potential fraud.
If product A is purchased, product B is also purchased with an X-% probability. These findings can be generated quickly and easily with SAP's Recommendation Service and do not have to be manually adjusted constantly and laboriously due to the continuous learning of the model. These functions have been successfully used by the very large online retailers for several years and are now available to companies of any size in any scalability quickly and easily via SAP Services.
All of the above functions are based on the company's own historical data that is used to create a model. In contrast, the functions within SAP Machine Learning Functional Services use models that have already been prepared by SAP and that do not first have to be trained, but can be used immediately via an API call. The following functions, among others, can be used within a very short time.
Image Classification and Feature Extraction API
With the Image Classification API, images can be evaluated and classified quickly and easily using a pre-trained SAP algorithm. This service can be used, for example, to obtain labels that enrich product images with keywords. Images can also be analyzed for similarity to find duplicates.
Topic Detection API
The Topic Detection API extracts topics from written text that the text deals with. For example, documents can be analyzed to better structure internal knowledge bases or keywords can be added to documents to make it easier to search for them.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) API
SAP's OCR API recognizes text in PDF or image files and extracts it. Optical text character recognition is already frequently used in highly specialized applications, but mostly as a proprietary solution. With this API you can, for example, transcribe scanned incoming documents such as invoices or general letters and then use the Topic Detection API to extract the associated topics in order to keyword the documents.
Product Text Classification API
With the Product Text Classification API, SAP provides a service that analyzes product texts and automatically classifies them into predefined groups. This function can be used, for example, to assign a large number of articles to product groups or other product categories fully automatically and based on their article texts.
With the Machine Learning Functional Services, SAP offers an easy introduction to the topic of machine learning, enabling you to implement your first quick wins as quickly as possible. The pre-trained models drastically shorten the time to benefit, but are limited to specific applications and do not always take individual needs into account. If company- or industry-specific questions are to be answered using Machine Learning, Machine Learning Predictive Services are better suited, as they can be individually adapted to the individual application. However, the effective and efficient use of these services goes hand in hand with increased effort in terms of data preparation, model creation and regular further development of the machine learning model.
Meinolf Schäfer, Senior Director Sales & Marketing
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