SAP to Build Ecosystem Around Machine Learning
At the SAP TechEd 2016 Barcelona conference, SAP signaled its intent to create dedicated partner programs to drive machine learning algorithms deep into all its applications. Those enhanced applications promise to be able to automate whole classes of functions in ways that neither partners nor customers have seen before.
For example, Markus Noga, vice president of machine learning incubation for SAP, says it's conceivable that entire accounting departments will soon be automated out of existence because invoices and payments will be reconciled by software that can identify the relationships between different documents and then process a transaction.
Noga says SAP is looking for partners that can help identify rote business processes that can be automated by applying machine learning algorithms to repetitive tasks. That would free up employees to add value by handling process exceptions or other tasks requiring higher levels of intelligence to accomplish.
SAP is dividing its machine learning initiative into three separate phases. The first phase will focus on infusing machine learning algorithms into existing applications with an eye toward driving a wave of upgrades across the installed base of SAP application customers.
Next, SAP will concentrate on new application development opportunities, and, ultimately, that will be followed by the creation of a machine learning platform. Noga says that partners should focus on tasks that don't provide organizations with any differentiation because those are the tasks most organizations are willing to automate.
When it comes to machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), SAP is clearly playing catch up with IBM. But rather than requiring IT organizations to move data into a separate platform such as Watson, Noga says SAP will be focusing on applying machine learning algorithms to where the data already resides in the enterprise. That approach, he says, will significantly reduce the cost of developing, deploying and managing next-generation machine learning applications.
In the meantime, as far as SAP partners are concerned, it's clear that SAP is on the path toward rendering whole classes of enterprise applications obsolete. In the future, instead of an end user having to interrogate the data in an application, the application itself will make use of voice recognition to inform the user of relevant events as they occur. In short, Noga says the end goal is to change the nature of the relationship between people and machines.
Naturally, that may take some getting used to for the average user. But, as is often the case when it comes to new application technologies, it's usually not too long before users start to appreciate all the little things they no longer need to do themselves.
Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications, including InfoWorld, CRN and eWEEK. He currently blogs daily for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, Channel Insider and Baseline. - See more at: http://www.channelinsider.com/blogs/tech-companies/salesforce-brings-ai-to-the-channel.html#sthash.YDeQet31.dpuf