​SAP brings 'live' business to manufacturing with UPS 3D-printing partnership

SAP and UPS have partnered up to deliver a 3D printing solution to manufacturers, which will help connect them directly to customers.

It's not longer sufficient for businesses to have a 360-degree view of their customer, rather they need to build contextual insights, according to Bernd Leukert, member of the SAP executive board.

Leukert said during his keynote at 2016 SAP Sapphire Now in Orlando, Florida, that all businesses have a common desire to succeed in the so-called digital age, and the solution to that is to deliver a "live" customer experience.

"For many years, as well as other companies have talked about the 360-degree customer view. Today, we are moving more to a contextual view, a live view of each individual customer. That view can get you virtually inside your customer's heads; you can understand the hopes, the dreams, the mental pictures, and then let's you provide the right product at the right time at the right place," he said.

"There is no need to ask so many questions anymore because you have the answers already."

As a means to help manufacturers become more competitive in product delivery, SAP has signed an agreement with UPS to create a global network of intelligent connected 3D printers built on the HANA platform.

Leukert boasted the solution will be the first end to end on-demand industrial scale solution that connects manufacturers directly with customers

"3D printing will not only simplify and optimise application production process, it will definitely create new opportunities and business models," he said.

US-based electronics manufacturer Jabil Circuit and precision and motion control system manufacturer Moog were named by Leukert as first two customers that will use the 3D printing service.

The announcement follows on from the collection of news being delivered from SAP's Sapphire Now event this week, which has been focused around analytics and machine learning capabilities.

On Tuesday, SAP CEO Bill McDermott predicted that over the next five to 10 years the hype will be around machine learning, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality.

"I think very strongly that intelligent applications will fundamentally change the way you do work in the enterprise and the way you collaborate with your trading partners outside of the enterprise," he said during his keynote.

Meanwhile, the company rebranded Cloud for Analytics to SAP BusinessObjects Cloud that will see analytics and its software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution combined; while also announcing SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise for on-premises analytics.

Leukert explained that the objective of it was to simplify how analytics are accessed in order for businesses to be able to make appropriate decisions.

"How good are insights on a legacy system if you can't react to it, or if the reaction comes too late? Obviously this means analytics will become even more [critical] for all your business needs," he said.

Additionally, SAP introduced new capabilities to its SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite to help companies standardise talent acquisition processes as an initiative to tackle workplace biases.

Disclosure: Aimee Chanthadavong travelled to 2016 SAP Sapphire Now with SAP.