The SAP/Apple partnership changes everything

With SAP’s support, Apple’s CoreML and AR unlock enterprise productivity.

Apple, SAP, iOS, CoreML, AR, Mobile, iPhone, Mac, enterprise
SAP

SAP and Apple are working together to help businesses build applications that use Apple’s machine learning and augmented reality (AR) technologies.

Apple is the enterprise

Apple CEO Tim Cook joined SAP CEO Bill McDermott at the latter company’s SAPPHIRE conference to announce the news.

“A man who is the last to accept the status quo, and the first to change it,” said McDermott introducing Cook.

Since entering into a business app development partnership with Apple in 2016, SAP has become an increasingly Apple-based business with around 100,000 Apple devices in use across the company.

That’s a revealing statistic, given Cook’s admission:

“When Apple was at its lowest in 97/98, we turned to SAP for the infrastructure of Apple and it was a key catalyst enabling us to turn the company around.”

It’s also a statistic that shows how Apple’s focus on delivering best-in-class consumer experiences has impacted enterprise technology.

What’s the SAP/Apple news?

  • SAP is adding Core ML, Apple’s on-device machine learning technology, for the first time as part of the SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS.
  • SAP will expand its native iOS experience across its broader applications portfolio, starting with SAP Ariba solutions.
  • SAP will expand its app offerings to the Mac, with new apps that match the power and ease of use of SAP iOS apps.

SAP’s press release is available here.

It tells us the next version of the SAP Cloud Platform SDK will enable businesses to create smart iOS apps powered by SAP Leonardo. These apps will be supplemented by machine learning from CoreML.

SAP has also rebuilt its most popular mobile apps (SuccessFactors, Concur, and Asset Manager), so they now run natively on iOS, and the company now plans to do the same across its product portfolio. It is also bringing these apps to the Mac. 

What do SAP's Apple decisions mean?

“Apple is on the rise in the enterprise,” McDermott said.

“Our customers love the unmatched security and ease of use iOS is known for, and that it gives them a superior platform to build game-changing business apps.”

SAP’s support is yet another signal that represents the importance of Apple’s technology to the modern enterprise.

Cook put it this way: “Whether you’re looking for productivity, efficiency or experience, machine learning and augmented reality are key to that, the device is key to that and mobility is critical. We all have to deliver the best information at the right time to the right individual in order to help them make the right decision.”

The Apple CEO sees solutions that can achieve this as providing “limitless” potential.

The two CEOs shared several examples to illustrate SAP’s technologies working with iOS to solve real-world challenges.

  • In retail, Core ML and AR working with SAP’s systems on an iPad to make it much easier and more efficient to check and change product positioning on store shelves.
  • In maintenance, it’s possible for an engineer to point their iPad at a problem in order to access appropriate engineering guides, as well as to proactively identify heavy machine components that may soon need replacing.
  • Even the NHL has gotten into using Apple’s technologies as it seeks out fresh ways to enhance sports coaching and player performance.
  • A Forbes article describes another use of this newly announced tech at New York Fashion Week earlier this year.

The SAP/Apple partnership comes at a critical juncture in enterprise technology evolution.

Not only do 87% of businesses plan to expand their app portfolios across the next 12 months, but 76% of business transactions already touch an SAP system – and 98% of Fortune 500 firms already use iOS devices.

Provision of tools and off-the-shelf apps for use in real-world business solutions – boosted by machine learning and AR – should encourage more enterprises to focus development on Apple’s technologies. But there’s another reason they will do so:

Privacy and security

Every enterprise knows that customer data is precious.

Not only is it precious, but poorly protected customer data can create appalling consequences. That’s why mobile solutions used across enterprise IT must absolutely have privacy and security baked inside of them.

Cook is a staunch advocate of the need for privacy and security.

He absolutely understands the need to extend such commitment to the world of enterprise IT.

“We believe it’s one of the top issues of the century,” Cook said. “If you think about the data on your phone, there’s more data on it than there is in your house. This is also true about your business – these are the jewels which must be protected."

McDermott responded to Cook, saying, “SAP doesn’t own our data. It’s our customer’s data, and knowing how you protect that data and the solemn oath of never letting someone’s private information become public information means a lot to us. And I want to thank you for your leadership in this regard; I think this is a huge move for the world.”

It’s not just about protecting business secrets and customer information, either. As the world becomes more connected, you’ll need privacy and security on a platform basis in order to protect global infrastructure.

The move to bring this kind of enterprise productivity to the Mac will also generate change, particularly given three out of four enterprise workers will choose a Mac when offered the opportunity to choose a platform.

“I think, Tim, that we’re in the midst of changing the world together,” McDermott said.

More information

Apple and SAP now offer nine ready-to-deploy apps from developers with proven experience building with the SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS.

These include solutions for site safety, proof of delivery, workflow analysis, customer experience management, incident reporting, sales, and transportation. Take a look at these here. Apple has also published a range of case studies and other data in support of the new partnership.

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