Our 2019 Observation: SAP Leonardo is Now Dead

Executive Summary

  • SAP made enormous claims around Leonardo. Several years after, these claims are so false.
  • Find out the current state of Leonardo.


SAP Leonardo is part of a broad issue at SAP regarding failures with new product introductions.

October 2018: The Stock Drops 14%

Immediately after 3Q 2018 regulatory filing with the SEC, SAP stock dropped 13.83%. SAP SE (NYSE:SAP) declined 9.36% since February 2018 and is downtrending. It has underperformed the S&P 500 by 9.36%.

A year-long downtrend is too long to be seasonal.

In SAP’s case, analysts and investors see a problem with SAP’s product vision. Brinker Capital decreased its stake in SAP by 34.5%. SAP’s innovation centers around the “intelligent enterprise”. This innovation was expected to drive growth from products like S/4 HANA, Leonardo IOT and AI, and the SAP cloud platform (SCP).

  • None of these product lines, despite massive marketing spend, gained material market traction over the past 2 years.
  • On the opening day of the SAP UK and Ireland user group conference in Birmingham on November 2017, a survey revealed that only 2% of SAP’s customers intend to use the much-trumpeted Leonardo artificial intelligence (AI) initiative, and 43% were unaware of its
  • Leonardo kept changing its primary scope starting as as an IoT platform then morphing into predictive analytics and then AI.

Is Leonardo for IoT or for analyzing Videos with Machine Learning? Is it all just the same thing?

January 2019: 4,400 Employee Layoff

The announcement said SAP will replace 4,400 employees with people who have artificial intelligence and machine learning skills. In other words, SAP is going to hire thousands of data scientists. That is all lot of hiring for a product area where SAP has a negligible footprint. Companies double down when they see signs of demand growth, not the other way around.

February 2019: SAP Announces Departure of Bernd Leukert

According to his LinkedIn profile, Leukert heads strategic innovation initiatives at SAP. His role is driving the development of new growth opportunities for SAP in the area of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrie 4.0. He was the Godfather of SAP Leonardo and the concept of the intelligent enterprise.

Bernd gets into Leonardo 8 minutes into this video. Notice that Leonardo is connected to everything: Big Data, machine learning, and SCP. Nothing Bernd said about Leonardo turned out to be true.

February 2019: SAP Announce Partnership with Microsoft Azure IOT

At the MWC, SAP announced that SAP Leonardo will leverage services from Azure IoT, including Azure IoT Hub and Azure IoT Edge, to provide access to secure connectivity at scale, powerful device management functionality, and industry-leading edge computing support.

Connecting the Dots

SAP is resetting its product strategy. Leukert left SAP with immediate effect and Michael Kleinemeier got an extension of his contract until 2020. S/4 real adoption is estimated at around 5% and HEC is one foot out of the door. Leonardo is a complete flop and is no longer mentioned even by SAP’s mighty marketing machine. The layoffs are a global cull of underperforming teams across S/4HANA, HEC, SCP, and Leonardo product groups. SAP has decided to use Microsoft Azure for IoT instead of pursuing further Leonardo development.

Comparison of Brightwork Versus Other Sources on SAP

We have repeatedly pointed out that most other sources on SAP are unreliable. All of the SAP consulting companies helped SAP lie to customers by making something that was nothing (Leonardo) into something. The following is our analysis of one typical article from the SAP consulting company Bluefin Solutions.

Bluefin Solutions has been the source of an enormous amount of information around HANA and S/4HANA. Bluefin Solutions published an article by Brenton O’Callaghan. In this article, we will review the accuracy of this article on Leonardo.

Global Head of SAP Leonardo?

Bluefin Solutions has a history of giving exalted titles to individuals. This was the case when John Appleby was the “Global Head of HANA” before being promoted. This has occurred again with Brenton O’Callaghan being called the “Global Head of Leonardo,” and having this title featured prominently at the top of the article. This is misleading because SAP has very little business from Leonardo, and it is unlikely that Brenton O’Callaghan has many projects he is managing.

Leonardo will Speed Implementations

O’Callaghan begins by making a rather strange statement, implying that Leonardo, which is a solution for IoT and ML, will speed implementations of SAP that are not associated with Leonardo.

“SAP implementations are long, arduous, inflexible and costly, always have been, always will be”. Think again. Brenton O’Callaghan looks at why SAP Leonardo is setting a new level for all SAP implementations. As I reflect on SAP Leonardo, and the methodology it employs, I can’t help but feel that it was an inevitable evolution of the SAP world. I’d go as far to say that I suspect we’ll soon stop talking about it as a ‘thing’ and simply start living it in all aspects of SAP implementations.”

It is unclear what is this methodology that is specific to Leonardo or how it is so special. Even if the company does not implement Leonardo will this supposed benefit of methodology be accessible to the other applications? If not, why not?

Because of Leonardo, SAP/Bluefin Solutions Will Now Listen to the User?

“What we’re talking about, when we say Leonardo, is putting both the user and the business before the technology. It challenges us to listen to the user before proposing a solution and to be more imaginative in how we approach those solutions. At its very simplest level, it ensures we put the user at the center of our enterprise solutions, delighting them through simplicity and efficiencies that we expect today from any consumer application.”

This is an interesting admission. It implies that prior to Leonardo SAP and their consulting partner network did not listen to users before proposing a technology. That would be news to hundreds of thousands of SAP consultants working in SAP for decades.

SAP is Disrupting Itself

“Leonardo now gives us a tangible way of articulating a mentality shift that frankly must be applied to the SAP world. This is SAP disrupting themselves before somebody else does – and isn’t that what this is all about anyway! As my good friend, DJ Adams would say – disruption to allow disruption – that’s very meta!”

This quotation is wrong in several ways. First, SAP implementations look about the same as when I started working in SAP in the late 1990’s. The mentality has not shifted. As with most consulting companies, Bluefin Solutions seeks to leverage information asymmetries to extract the most out of their SAP customers, as do all SAP consulting firms I have been exposed to over the years. Secondly, someone is disrupting SAP, and it is not SAP. It is AWS.

Leonardo is the Focus of the SAP World?

“So yes, SAP Leonardo is the focus of the SAP world for now, and I believe it is going to be a part of every major SAP implementation going forward. However, I also predict that we will eventually start talking less about it and simply start living it instead…. Who knows? Perhaps one day I’ll be writing ‘SAP Leonardo is dead’ because it’s just an everyday part of SAP, and that wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

Leonardo was the focus (or one of the focuses) of the SAP world perhaps a year ago, but when this article was published by Bluefin Solutions in May of 2018, that had already not been true for a while. Leonardo was an emphasis point of SAP at SAPPHIRE 2017 (in June of 2017), but by SAPPHIRE 2018 it was barely mentioned. As for the “Leonardo Methodology” that is implied in the article where consultants now listen to users before recommending solutions, this is not even a discussion point on SAP projects.

This article contains so many problems. First, it tells the reader close to nothing about Leonardo, implying that its main value is as a methodology. However the author does not explain what this methodology is, instead merely implying that it is somehow not only good but transformational, and not only transformational to Leonardo implementations, but to SAP applications in general.


SAP Leonardo almost replaced HANA and S/4HANA as the primary marketing tentpole for SAP. Leonardo was the star of the 2017 SAPPHIRE conference but notably diminished in stature by the 2018 SAPPHIRE conference.

We predicted that Leonardo would fail way back in May of 2017 in Why Does Leonardo Seem so Fake? We covered some truly ridiculous claims around Leonardo in the article How Accurate Was SAP Saying Leonardo Ensures Frozen Ice Cream Delivery?

The marketing noise around Leonardo died. Now, it looks like the product that never was.

What to Do About Leonardo: Being Part of the Solution

There are two fundamental problems around Leonardo. What SAP said about Leonardo never made any sense. And secondly, the large SAP consulting firms promoted Leonardo as they normally just repeat whatever SAP says.

Accenture, as with all of the other firms lied to their clients about Leonardo. Very few companies actually tried Leonardo, but those that did failed, and Leonardo is now dead.

HG Insights estimates 125 companies using Leonardo globally.

The Importance of Fact-Checking SAP

We offer fact-checking services that are entirely research-based and that can stop inaccurate information dead in its tracks. SAP and the consulting firms rely on providing information without any fact-checking entity to contradict the information they provide. This is how companies end up paying for a database which is exorbitantly priced, exorbitantly expensive to implement and exorbitantly expensive to maintain. When SAP or their consulting firm are asked to explain these discrepancies, we have found that they further lie to the customer/client and often turn the issue around on the account, as we covered in the article How SAP Will Gaslight You When Their Software Does Not Work as Promised.

If your company was lied to about Leonardo by SAP, reach out to us with the messenger in the lower right hand corner.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.


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