SAP TechEd, the highly anticipated event of the year for tech enthusiasts, once again lived up to its reputation as the go-to place for technical insights. As part of the INNOV8iON team, we immersed ourselves in the event, both figuratively and literally. While savoring a delightful Indian buffet, we engaged with the latest developments. Simultaneously, we joined forces in our office to absorb the wisdom shared in the keynotes and attended numerous virtual lectures individually. The event’s central focus this year was undeniably on Artificial Intelligence and on Business Technology Platform.
Business Technology Platform (BTP)
SAP emphasized the significance of the Business Technology Platform, underscoring its commitment to the “clean core” principle. This principle, while no longer explicitly reiterated, is now ingrained in SAP’s approach. During the keynote sessions, several customers were invited to briefly share their experiences with BTP, highlighting the specific ways it has empowered them. The flexibility of BTP in terms of options was clearly visible, and SAP has thoughtfully very recent provided an overarching BTP developer guide to streamline the process. https://help.sap.com/docs/btp/btp-developers-guide/what-is-btp-developers-guide
An exciting addition to BTP was announced already before TechEd – the inclusion of Terraform as another provider. Terraform brings the power of Infrastructure as Code (IAC), enabling the creation of descriptive models for your BTP landscape, roles, assignments, and more, promoting repeatability.
The past year has witnessed significant investments in AI, large language models, and generative AI across the IT industry, and SAP has been no exception. SAP has tirelessly integrated AI capabilities into its products and developer suites. For the latter promising a considerable enhancement in the overall developer experience.
SAP’s introduction of SAP Build Code, alongside SAP Build for low-code and automation, has piqued our curiosity. SAP Build Code is designed for procode solutions, such as building applications with CAP (Cloud Application Programming Model), UI5, and Fiori Elements. It will offer additional features compared to Business Application Studio. An intriguing glimpse was shared upfront of TechEd, of CAPGPT, a prompt-driven CAP app generator.
At TechEd it all became more clear. SAP releases soon a BTP overarching AI ‘assistant’, name Joule. SAP Build Code will also leverage this additional feature called Joule which in this case allows developers to describe applications in natural language and generate fully functional CAP applications, along with the possibility of generating unit tests. Joule, however, is not yet available, and we anticipate its general release in Q1 2024.
ABAP Cloud, an area of pro-code development, also received a boost in its developer experience with AI capabilities. While still in its early phases, a demo showcased the ability to capture a picture of an handmade drawing showing an domain model, and automatically generate the necessary ABAP artefacts, including a full RAP class structure – a promising time-saving tool for developers.
SAP has embedded AI capabilities into SuccessFactors and various other scenarios, making its mark on the business AI landscape. Data scientists and engineers have much to look forward to, with features like “JustAsk” to answer questions on your dataset in SAP Analytics Cloud.
Notably, AI can be applied not only to ABAP (RAP) and CAP coding but also to SQL statement generation, when building complex SQL queries. With the possibility of connecting external large language models (LLMs), including GPT-3.5/ 4 and more. SAP has taken steps to facilitate this AI orchestration and seamless integration with different LLM providers.
In this era heavily influenced by AI, SAP has forged partnerships with leading players like Microsoft (openAI), Databricks, DataRobot, IBM, and more to expand and diversify its offerings.
SAP’s commitment to a clean core strategy is commendable, with an emphasis on making upgrades smoother. However, it’s worth noting that groundbreaking innovations like leveraging LLM may be primarily focused on cloud offerings, with no integration yet into on-premise S4 or ECC stacks. While the genAI capabilities for ABAP/RAP will be exclusive to the cloud, on-premise Fiori/Fiori Elements apps have yet to fully harness the potential of genAI.
Business AI holds promise for different processes, especially in SuccessFactors, S/4HANA Cloud, and the like, although the extent of integration in on-premise S/4HANA landscapes remains uncertain.
Nevertheless, there is on premise news; the Edge Integration Cell, now generally available, offers an on-premise integration option for customers who prefer not to rely solely on the SAP Integration Suite in the cloud, allowing for integration between on-premise systems.
The Future is bright
We eagerly anticipate further developments and the future inclusion of genAI and LLM capabilities in on-premise and private cloud landscapes. As technology continues to evolve, SAP remains at the forefront, promising innovative solutions for the ever-changing world of business technology.
For a more in-depth look at the latest announcements from SAP TechEd, you can refer to the comprehensive news guide here: SAP TechEd News Guide.