SAP Leonardo - what is it?

5 September 2017

Brenton O'Callaghan

Brenton O'Callaghan

Global Head of SAP Innovation

Earlier this year SAP Leonardo was re-introduced to the SAP ecosphere, but who fully understands its offering?  Is it a technology or a methodology or just a re-brand of their previously IoT focused Leonardo label?  Brenton O’Callaghan, Global Head of SAP Leonardo here at Bluefin, explains all...

At SAPPHIRENOW and ASUG 2017, SAP introduced “SAP Leonardo”, their Digital Innovation platform.  Following this I was lucky enough to be invited to attend, SAP Leonardo Live, last month in Frankfurt: it is crystal clear that Leonardo is going to redefine how SAP can facilitate focused and rapid digital innovation across the business spectrum. However, SAP Leonardo is not a technology, contrary to what some people believe.

So what is it?

SAP Leonardo is a rapid and transformative approach to digital innovation combined with a series of advanced technologies based on SAP’s cloud platform. Centered around the concept of design thinking and solving the right challenges within your business in a rapid and frictionless manner it uses some of the most advanced concepts in machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), analytics, blockchain and so much more.
Here I’m going to take a deeper dive into the SAP Leonardo innovation process. It is backed by concepts such as Industry accelerators as well as open innovations, but I’ll cover those in more detail elsewhere. For now - what is the SAP Leonardo process?

The Process Overview


Solution Ideation & Vision (1 day) 

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit, genius hits a target no one else can see”
Arthur Schopenhauer - German philosopher 1800s

The solution ideation and vision phase is a simple facilitated one day design-thinking workshop. It is business led and will strive to identify the right problem to take on as a first (or next) step on the digital innovation ladder. Choosing the right problem here, that will have a measurable business impact, is key.
This is the starting point for the SAP Leonardo journey. Put all preconceptions aside and really dive in to discover what is the right bite-size problem that should be tackled as part of this process.

Rapid prototyping (2 weeks) 

“Effective prototyping may be the most valuable core competence an innovative organization can hope to have”  Michael Schrage - Innovation Expert

Using SAP Leonardo BUILD for rapid prototyping. Prototypes and designs are created to bring the solution and concept to life for the business and gain actionable feedback from users and business leaders. These designs also form part of the final product and act as accelerators when bringing the application into existence.
BUILD brings a vast range of templates that can be used as accelerators in this space and it allows for the creation of fully fledged prototypes in minutes.
The main benefit to this step of the process is that the end users and business leaders can literally touch and feel the potential end product, give immediate and raw feedback to allow for refinement and also generate excitement for the overall solution.

Business case development 

“Don't wait for the opportunity, create it.”  Debashis Mridha - MD & Philosopher

 Now that the users are bought into the prototype and you’ve proved it has the potential to being serious benefit to the business, the next step is to refine and work through the business case for the chosen solution. This involves testing the business case and the viability of the product using the prototype created during this process.
What should come out the other side is an iron clad business case that the business can stand behind. It should capture the benefits that can be realized not just from a business process or IT standpoint but also from an end user standpoint.
Technology blueprint

"Twitter was a mere prototype in 2006; now, many of us have become adept at saying all we have to say in 140 characters."  David Horsey, Editorial Cartoonist

Bringing the prototype into reality is the next step and that is not always the easiest thing to do in a modern and complex IT infrastructure. This phase analyses the dependencies and requirements to scale this solution to meet the enterprise needs it also includes a view of what pre-requisites are required and what risks need to be mitigated in order to roll out the product.
So there you have it, this was a brief overview of the SAP Leonardo innovation process. If you take anything away from this insight I want it to be that Leonardo is not a technology but rather a set of processes and accelerators that enable rapid and predictable innovation, all based on the SAP Cloud Platform.
View comments


  • Mike Cooper - 25 Oct 2017, 15:31:50
    Brenton, I like how you define Leonardo.....

About the author

Brenton O'Callaghan

Global Head of SAP Innovation

Enterprise technology strategist and emerging technology evangelist

I'm a globally experienced SAP expert based in Ireland and I’m currently responsible for creating and bringing our SAP Innovation & Leonardo practice to market. My day job involves helping our customers to solve actual business problems in a rapid fashion using tools such as design thinking, SAP Leonardo and much more. I'm also responsible for exploring how emerging technologies and concepts can be applied within our customer base such as Machine Learning, Blockchain, DevOps and AI.
I've a background in computer science and have spent the last 9+ years in the SAP space across a wide range of industries across EMEA and North America. I'm a big believer that the best consultants have a mix of technical knowledge, industry experience and empathy and that is what I bring with my team to my customers. It's all about bringing about positive and relevant business change with the best possible technology.
Outside of work you can find me supporting the Irish Rugby team and the Boston Red Sox as well as my new found hobby - golf!


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