From managing flood to the digital transformation of palm trees, cloud technology seems to be moving from being an efficiency improver to a default platform of creating new business models. Majority of big technology firms like Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco and Google have significantly invested and are creating new consumption models based on the cloud platform. Recently, SAP, the $23-billion German enterprise software maker forayed into digital transformation of palm trees by using automated drone images, temperature meter and sensors analysis in conjunction with SAP Cloud Platform.
Without disclosing the name of the organisation, the world’s largest enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendor said that it was working with one of the biggest palm oil producer in the world who have millions of hectare of palm field to create digital identity of each palm trees to check their health and improve transparency in palm oil production.
“We recently met a customer who has millions of hectare of palm tree field. They said that they can recognise big bush fire but sometimes they are unable to detect the smaller one. So, they collaborated with us to use technology to address this challenge. We took drones and fly it over the field to take pictures. Those pictures were processed with the help of software. If software detects significant colour variations like yellow or red, then an alert goes out and somebody is physically sent to check the trees,” said, Bernd Leukert, member of the executive board of SAP SE.
This technology intervention is not only mitigating the risk of fire, it is also helping palm oil producers in stepping up their efforts to prevent deforestation which main consumers like India, China, Indonesia and Europe have been demanding. Basically, palm trees are one of the most efficient crops to produce oils and fats. One hectare of palm plantation is able to produce up to ten times more oil than other leading oilseed crops. But palm trees suffer a reputation problem due to sustainability challenges – primarily deforestation and responsible use of input products and social standards. Companies like SAP are trying to address this challenge by using technology and integrating an end-to-end process from data capturing to driving optimisation and automation of operations at scale.
“So far, palm oil producers have been managing these with the help of primitive methods but we told them that SAP can do it more intelligently. Aerial photography is one of the method but with the help of temperature meters and sensors, we can transfer the information into our cloud platform to monitor the time-series of the temperature and alerts can go out in real time if significant variation is found,” said Leukert who is responsible for entire technological foundation of all of SAP’s products as well as application development.
SAP has built the prototype, demonstrated it and one of the organisation is already using this solution. The German firm is now in the process of building an agriculture consortium as it sees application of these software in other fields too. “Palm tree is one example but same could be applied to other agriculture products and services. So, we had the conversation with the customer and told that we would like to build it as a standard product to be used by agriculture sector. One of the customer will chair the consortium and all the participants will invest, share risk and benefits including SAP,” said Leukert.
The solution named as “SAP Connected Agriculture” uses Internet of Things (IoT) including smart machines, drones and robots for automatically collecting the data. Those data are smartly processed to create smart agricultural solutions. SAP said that this would help agriculture sector in optimisation of their processes, practices and improve collaboration.
To ensure that Indian agriculture sector also uses these technology driven solutions to improve their efficiency, the company is collaborating with different government organisations including Niti Ayog. “We know the importance of agriculture in India. Use of technology for palm tree is one example but same can be applied for improving farmers, dairy milk producers and livestock in India,” said Dilipkumar Khandelwal, managing director, SAP Labs India and president of the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud.
“In India, the biggest problem is not the unemployment but the under-employment. Even agriculture is 50 per cent of GDP but it contributes only 17 per cent to GDP. So, if India wants to increase productivity, technology is the way forward. Indian farmers can use software to get right yields,” he said.