Major announcements from market leaders SAP and Microsoft this past May signalled a strengthening of their long-standing partnership and an ongoing commitment to artificial intelligence (AI). Generative AI will soon bring the power of natural language models to SAP SuccessFactors talent management solutions, streamline content creation, and provide access to in-depth analytics around the clock.

The small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) deploying SAP Business One have not been left out of the AI conversation. SAP continues to follow a well-defined roadmap to bring AI and Business One together in many exciting ways.

A three-pronged approach brings the benefits of ERP AI to small-medium sized businesses.”

The Value of AI for SMB ERP

With roots in the MRP systems of the 1970s, ERP software streamlines complex business processes and manages large data sets on a unified framework. Artificial intelligence was conceived a generation earlier based on a (then hypothetical) concept of computers or computer-controlled robots performing tasks commonly associated with human beings—a definition that also applies to ERP today.

AI and ERP working together accelerate day-to-day tasks, minimize human error, and reduce expenses. Human intelligence, potential, and creativity need not be squandered on repetitive accounting, data entry, and customer service tasks when companies of all types and sizes can benefit from the improved automation and flexibility brought by AI.

A Three-Pronged Approach to AI for Business One

As the potential of AI became apparent for large enterprise solutions back in 2021, plans to bring intelligent services to Business One customers began to crystalize. Wisely, the path forward was divided between three equally important lanes to maximize the value of AI for Business One performance:

1)     Intelligent technology embedded directly within the Business One core

2)     Business One AI add-ons from strategic third-party partners

3)     Enablement of SAP Intelligent RPA bots

Intelligence in the AI Business One Core

Tentative first steps toward Business One AI integration in the core focused on automated document information extraction processes. The applications for SAP Artificial Intelligence Business Services have expanded to include automated travel receipt uploads, invoice processing, and service ticket intelligence to classify customer feedback.

A new initiative to infuse the entire SAP portfolio with the capabilities and insights of IBM’s Watson AI engine will be a quantum leap forward for Business One AI. The integration of Watson will accelerate natural language processing and understanding capabilities while further automating back-end tasks.

Business One AI Add-ons

Artificial Intelligence apps integrated with SAP Business One through APIs allow users to select AI capabilities that are relevant to their SMB model while utilizing the expertise of top third-party app developers. Well-received AI add-ons for Business One include:

  • AnswerRocket: Financial analysts and category managers can ask questions about enterprise data using natural language and receive detailed responses or tailored graphics.
  • NLSQL: Expands on the relationship between natural language and big data by quickly mining information used during business negotiations, like price, turnover, inventory, and sales.
  • BAAR by Allied Media: This workflow automation platform uses cognitive automation capabilities to streamline business, legal, and contract processes.

Intelligent RPA bots

Intelligent Robotic Process Automation (IRPA) allows users to build automated tools for SAP Business One by combining various AI business services and applications. The SAP Intelligent RPA Store provides access to a library of pre-built automation workflows that can be used for many different projects.  

Using this technology, bots can be programmed to take the place of human users, even for complex tasks that require interaction with multiple applications. An intuitive visual interface makes it easy for non-experts to create AI workflows using a drag-and-drop approach.

What’s Next for SAP Business One and AI?

The path established for SAP Business One AI integration will continue to yield performance enhancements and improve convenience. As predictive analytics and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities grow exponentially, new technology will be leveraged through enhanced core capabilities, improved AI add-ons, and new IRPA workflows.

Throughout this journey, responsible AI use that protects privacy and public safety, minimizes bias, and considers the long and short-term impact on societal well-being will be imperative.

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