Monday, December 11, 2023

SAP bullish on future of AI in Southeast Asia

The buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) may be subsiding but it has set disruption in motion. Southeast Asian (SEA) organizations are now actively experimenting with this transformative technology and enterprise software giant SAP aims to support its adoption.

The German tech firm held a virtual media briefing recently to discuss how their SEA clients are utilizing AI, as well as spotlight their new solutions to help businesses seamlessly integrate this technology into brand-specific operations.

During the briefing, Eileen Chua, managing director of SAP Singapore, expounded on the diverse ways AI is being used or planned to be used by SEA organizations across different industries.

She drew attention to financial institutions and their implementation of AI to automate back office processes, especially in the area of fraud detection and risk assessment. She additionally commented that several clients are reducing the manual post-processing of incoming bank statements through a SAP cash app, which employs the related technology of machine learning.

Chua also observed that the Singapore healthcare sector is evaluating the potential of AI to improve the early diagnosis and treatment of some of the country’s critical illnesses, including cancer.

She stressed, though, that all organizations — from large corporations to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) — are eager to adopt AI.

“In Singapore, we do have a very large base of customers who are now looking at renewing our ERP platform to our next generation [platform] delivered in the cloud,” Chua said.

“They are taking this opportunity to completely redesign their business processes in order to improve their experience of our enterprise grade applications and they’re certainly keen to see how they can also begin to design these new business processes with the help of AI, which will now be delivered as part of our business portfolio,” she added.

Walter Sun, senior vice president and global head for AI at SAP Singapore, took charge when explaining how SAP’s business portfolio empowers clients to customize AI to their organization’s needs.

This customization is made possible through several newly launched SAP products targeted towards the developers who program personalized apps for businesses on the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP).

Many of these solutions were revealed during the recent SAP TechEd 2023, the company’s annual educational conference for SAP professionals and developers.

First is the SAP AI Foundation, a one-stop-shop for developers to build AI- and generative AI-powered extensions and apps on SAP BTP. The SAP AI Foundation contains all the tools developers need to start creating business AI solutions such as ready-to-use AI services, access to the top large language models, AI runtime and lifecycle management, and vector database capabilities.

These vector database capabilities were also featured prominently in the updated SAP HANA Cloud, which added vector database features to its multi-model offerings.

Vector databases are becoming a critical component for private generative AI models as they make it easier for these models to draw connections between related data. Consequently, it allows them to more accurately pick-up on an organization’s context and understand how it evolves over time.

The SAP HANA Cloud’s vector database capabilities are specifically built for the SAP platforms. They will enable SAP developers to not only work within a secure, private framework, but also efficiently deliver models capable of deeper, personalized business insights that use industry-specific customer data to reduce hallucinations.

Similarly targeted towards developers, the company’s next offering is the SAP Build Code, which is a streamlined coding environment enhanced by generative AI solutions.

Within this environment, developers can boost their productivity by availing of AI-powered productivity tools optimized for Java and JavaScript development, including SAP’s lately released generative AI copilot, Joule.

Sun wrapped up by teasing a product that clients in general could use throughout their organization’s operations. He termed it a Business Large Model. In contrast to LLMs that output sentences or paragraphs, Sun reported that the model SAP is developing will speak “business language” by generating data formatted for business settings such as charge tables.

“This is unique because there’s not such a model in the market today and SAP is uniquely position to build this model given the fact that we have business data… and business know how,” Sun asserted.

He additionally revealed that these new releases are just the start of SAP’s AI features. “In each product we’re embedding Generative AI. So month over month, you’ll be seeing new features,” Sun said.


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