SAP wants to bridge the gap between IoT and business data

SAP announced a new tool today called the Leonardo IoT Bridge designed to help bridge the gap between data coming from sensors in the field and business systems operating inside a firm.

The manufacturing sector is in the middle of a massive shift where machines are being equipped with sensors that transmit torrents of data about their health, and the environment around them, over the internet.

SAP, the German company mostly known for developing large, complex ERP systems and databases wants to apply what it’s learned processing large volumes of business data to connected sensors and the underlying systems.

To this end, the company announced a new platform in May called SAP Leonardo. According to SAP’s Nils Herzberg, who holds the title of SVP of Internet of Things at the company (a title I’m betting did not exist until recently), Leonardo is a cloud service that can help ingest, process and make sense of the hordes of IoT data.

The Leonardo IoT Bridge announced today at the first Leonardo Live customer event, is a digital command center that combines  SAP applications information and sensor data to help track operations information in real time.

According to a company blog post announcing the new tool, “A key feature of SAP Leonardo IoT Bridge is the ability to identify unexpected and unplanned events from IoT applications, present it contextually to the Operations users and provide them with decision support, including information on trade-offs against service level agreements, cost and other relevant factors,”

If it works as described it could be a boon to customers with logistics and operations teams struggling to track information in real time. In fact, the company announced a partnership with the Bosch Group to build an IoT Bridge dashboard for delivery companies that can track both the delivery vehicles and the packages inside them in real time, delivering sensor data to the IoT Delivery Bridge about vehicle location and package conditions based on temperature and shock data coming from sensors inside the vehicle.

But it’s about more than simply knowing the vehicle has broken down, is stuck in heavy traffic or a package has spoiled, it’s being able to tap into the business information to know where nearby replacement stock and vehicles are — and how you can recover to make the delivery anyway.

The tool can be configured in a variety of ways so this same technology could potentially be used to predict machine break-downs in a manufacturing facility or food spoilage in a supermarket, as a couple of examples.

Standard Leonardo services include machine learning, analytics, big data and even blockchain as a service. The platform can take the information coming from sensors and help build a more practical workflow that makes use of the data.

As Herzberg pointed out, there is little sense in being able to predict that a fuel pump is going to fail if you don’t know if there is a part in the warehouse to fix it, how quickly you can get it and if there is any trained service personnel to handle the repair. This is actually the sweet spot for an ERP provider like SAP, which creates systems to track that kind of information. It believes it can use that know-how to help make sense of IoT data too.