Decoding SAP Labs’ Generative AI Motto

The German ERP software provider is investing heavily in upskilling its employees.
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At SAP Labs’ recent event, “Unlocking Business AI with SAP Labs India,” in Bengaluru last week, the ERP software giant revealed its ambitious plans for infusing generative AI in business solutions for the humongous client base. Alongside, the company aims to double the AI talent pool by 2024. As the largest R&D center within SAP’s global network, this expansion aims to integrate cutting-edge AI capabilities into its product lineup to address the changing demands of the corporate landscape and its global clientele.

The German tech conglomerate is currently focusing on AI innovation and collaboration, as stated by Sindhu Gangadharan, senior VP and MD of SAP Labs, at the event. They also partner with Microsoft to develop an AI ecosystem for the future. To bridge talent shortages, Sapphire Ventures, supported by SAP, has committed a substantial $1 billion USD investment for startups specializing in AI-powered enterprise technology.

In July, SAP also made strategic investments in three key generative AI companies: Aleph Alpha, Anthropic, and Cohere. Additionally, SAP plans to unveil new AI-based solutions and capabilities in its portfolio in the near future. 

SAP is also committed to investing in India. Bengaluru is one of the biggest regions and hosts 40% of the research and development operations. The company intends to significantly increase its financial commitments to their Indian operations. The company is expecting its cloud revenue to increase significantly as a result of its key investments in generative 

The event centered around three key themes: addressing the AI talent shortage through upskilling, introducing innovative generative AI solutions for customers, and outlining their ethical approach to AI.

Want to Stay Relevant? Upskill

Gangadharan stressed the importance of upskilling at SAP. While 34% of their workforce comprises fresh talent, including some pursuing master’s degrees at BITS Pilani, the company is also committed to enhancing the skills of mid-senior staff. Currently, they are implementing a 16-month program called “AI for Manager” in collaboration with IIM Bangalore, with the first batch recently completing the course.

“We organize global learning days and training programs to keep up with rapidly changing AI technologies. The focus is on building a strong foundational understanding of technology, problem-solving, and scalability through the training.” Gangadharan told AIM.

New Generative AI Offerings

SAP already has 350+ applications built within its portfolio, covering various use cases like cash management and document scanning. The company is adding a generative AI layer to its Business Technology Platform (BTP) to address data protection concerns and enhance data security. Even though they’re not developing their own large language model, they aim to add value to existing models. SAP’s focus is on improving business processes while ensuring decisions remain under human control.

SAP is introducing generative AI-based solutions in various domains. Back in May, SAP and Microsoft collaborated to streamline recruiting and employee development processes through the Azure OpenAI Service API. The result is their Human Capital Management tool, which uses the ChatGPT-based interface in SAP SuccessFactors to combat biases in job descriptions and promote diversity in hiring.

Additionally, their new Business Analytics tool, built on in-house models, enables faster access to insights in SAP Analytics Cloud through the “Just Ask” feature.

On the other hand, “Gen AI for Customer Innovations” presents applications like the “Smart CO2 Converter” to drive sustainability initiatives. Additionally, SAP’s “Gen AI for Developer Productivity” integrates GPT-4 into SAP BTP Business Application Studio to streamline software development, reducing data model and service generation time by 30% for improved efficiency. These solutions, aiming to empower businesses across different sectors, are going to be launched in November 2023.

Besides Microsoft, the enterprise software vendor also partnered with Google Cloud, aiming to launch a holistic data cloud powered by SAPDatasphere. This innovative solution, enhancing the RISE with SAP offering, empowers businesses to access vital data in real time. It effectively tackles a common hurdle faced by organizations, eliminating the need for extensive investments in intricate data integrations, bespoke analytics systems, and AI/NLP models to extract value from their data investments.

More recently, SAP invested in three major generative AI players: Anthropic, Cohere, and Aleph Alpha, getting the best of all worlds.

“Keeping Responsible AI at the Heart of Our Work”

Acknowledging the impact of AI on society, SAP established guiding principles for AI software development and deployment in 2018. SAP introduced this guidebook at a time when AI was just beginning to take shape.

Underlining the European influence on their approach to responsible data usage, Gangadharan emphasized, “Ethical AI is in our DNA.” Gangadharan elaborated on SAP’s philosophy, encapsulated in the three R’s: Relevant, Reliable, and Responsible.

Firstly, they emphasize the importance of aligning AI with core business processes to ensure its relevance to business requirements. Secondly, they underscore the significance of reliable data as the foundation for informed decision-making, emphasizing the necessity to authenticate data used for AI model training. Last but not least, they prioritize responsible AI, encompassing compliance with legal standards, transparent decision-making, and the establishment of a harmonious human-machine interaction balance.

Read more: Responsible AI Takes Center Stage at Google I/O Connect

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Shritama Saha
Shritama is a technology journalist who is keen to learn about AI and analytics play. A graduate in mass communication, she is passionate to explore the influence of data science on fashion, drug development, films, and art.

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