Interview with
Tanja Rueckert
Binnen SAP is Tanja Rueckert sinds juli 2015 verantwoordelijk voor Internet of Things. Sinds april van dit jaar luidt haar formele functietitel ‘Executive Vice President Line of Business Digital Assets and IoT’. Wij hebben haar een aantal vragen voorgelegd. Die vragen zijn grotendeels door onze leden aangereikt, via een online enquête en via een IoT-kennissessie die kortgeleden door de VNSG werd georganiseerd.
Last April, you were appointed to lead the Line of Business for Digital Assets & IoT within SAP. What are your responsibilities?

My most important task is to support our customers on their digital transformation journey, helping them to bring the operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) world together, capitalize on all the data available from machines, using intelligence (AI, ML) and with this treasure of data, rethink business process and imagine new business models.

To enable this transformation, I have the responsibility for products and innovation for Digital Assets and IoT solutions. These include Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, and also manufacturing, supply chain management, including warehouse management, transportation management, asset management and integrated business planning.

I am also responsible for growing our ecosystem with partners and startups. Collaboration is key for success. No company can go it alone!

Finally, to help IoT to go mainstream, we need to address topics like interoperability and security and for that reason SAP is an active member of the Industrial Internet Consortium where I am Vice Chair.

How would you describe the Internet of Things, and SAP’s response to it? Why is SAP uniquely positioned to address these developments?

IoT will be the biggest game changer – affecting every aspect of business operations, which means it will drive the largest segment of growth in new business value. Value chains will become transparent and machine learning will allow companies to predict trends and optimize operations. IoT will revolutionize the business world. We are already seeing this in so many industries and areas of business.

SAP is uniquely positioned to help live enterprise utilize all data generated from assets, machines, and things in the operational technology world. We are enabling new business processes, new business models and new work environments, and although we started our IoT journey many years ago, we recently got very serious with an announcement on September 28th - a multi-year investment plan of €2 billion through 2020.

SAP empowers businesses to innovate from the core to the edges of the networks. We have a unique combination of business process expertise in 25 industries, innovative in-memory technology, and an end-to-end integrated solution stack, which clearly differentiates us from other business systems, cloud infrastructure, and industrial vendors.

In addition, we have a powerful ecosystem of partners, service providers and resellers, telecoms, technology and edge connectivity partners, and SAP has proven that it can package customer co-innovation around IoT and machine learning from custom-built projects into ready-to-deploy solutions for connected business (e.g. with Predictive Maintenance and Services).

Finally, we are opening new IoT Labs around the world to collaborate on Industry 4.0/IoT with customers, partners and startups. Current planned locations will be in Berlin, Johannesburg, Munich, Paris, Palo Alto, Sao Leopoldo, and Shanghai.

Where do you see most traction? Are there any industries or geographies that are leading the way?

I think the areas where we see the most traction or early adoption are Manufacturing Industries, Transportation and Logistics, Consumer Products & Retail, Utilities & Natural Resources – in addition to Healthcare & Public Services.

From a geographic perspective, I would say in the following order: North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and then the rest of the world. But it is not so much about the country, it is more about the openness for innovation and change in individual companies, these are critical for speed and success in execution.

What are current developments in/of SAP to effectively synergize with the Internet of Things?

We are working on new developments all the time! Some I already mentioned. SAP has an IoT Start-up Accelerator which connects with B2B start-ups and gives them the opportunity to work with SAP and their customers for innovative showcases in IoT.

We also understand the power of co-innovation and we have new partnerships with GE, Bosch and UPS to mention only a few. It is important to be able to work with other organizations to develop standard processes, procedures and understand security challenges, which is why membership in organizations like the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) is important to SAP.

We continue to develop new products and solutions and we will continue to consider tuck-in acquisitiions like Fedem and PLAT.ONE

What lighthouse projects does SAP have with IoT that you are particularly proud of?

There are quite a few! But I especially like projects where we help the world - like Strata, showing continuous development of a Digital Farming Platform based on our IoT technology which allows cooperatives and machine manufacturers to gain new insights through data analytics. This helps farmers produce more high-quality crops per acre and supports sustainable agricultural practices that respect the environment and the farmers.

I also like the partnership with Trenitalia, which is just a fantastic company to work with – taking IoT Predictive Maintenance to new levels and a wonderful customer event in Rome this year. Some of the details of the custom solution are:

How does SAP support its customers in adopting the Internet of Things? What is your advice to SAP customers who want to develop a strategy for IoT?

We now have a very robust set of solutions that can help in many different industries and difference businees, whether they are looking to digitize their supply chain, reduce waste in manufacturing, or fix a product before it breaks. I always tell customers that to stay competative they have to look at ways to start transforming their business, but they can start small, IoT has the wonderful potential to resolve problems, where you may think there is no solution, and that is where you can see a huge value from IoT without immediately looking to change eveything you do.

Customers can also leverage our IoT solutions to serve their own customers, their products can become ‘smart’ products and services, which ultimately means that our solutions become part of their own portfolios! They will also get the opportunity to utilize our new labs, collaborate with developers and consultants to help them start their journey.

SAP is also famous for Design Thinking and this is a great way for companies to begin their IoT journey – looking at new busines models, new ways of doing things, challenging the norms. They could also look at rapid prototyping, ready-to-use standard solutions and sharing of best practice.

Let’s imagine that it is 2019 now, how did the world change as a result of IoT, in the past three years?

That a great question! I believe so many things are possible, but a few things come to mind - like parts are not failing – with Predictive Maintenance, we stop most breakdowns before they happen, and if they do, they will replaced the part with 3D printing to a local printer within hours!

I may never have to worry about finding a parking space again! My car will find it for me!

Hopefully, fresh produce will not go to waste, it will be shipped to locations in need of food before it can go bad and those are the ones that come to mind – there are many many more!