By year-end, users of a couple of SAP applications should have the option to ask generative AI copilot, Joule, to help with their work \u2014 and the company plans to roll the feature out across all its applications one by one in the years to come.\n\nClicking on a dedicated button in compatible SAP applications will open up the Joule interface, which will then accept input in a variety of ways. Users can type their request in natural language, click on buttons for suggested actions, or enter dates from a calendar picker. Joule will respond accordingly with text, graphics, and tables drawn from SAP or external data sources, or with links to other applications and workflows.\n\nAccess to the Joule interface will be included in existing SAP software license agreements, but the generative AI use cases that Joule calls on will be priced based on their business value, SAP chief marketing and solutions officer Julia White said.\n\nWhile SAP is opening up its AI assistant to the wider internet, it\u2019s taking care to protect customers\u2019 data. No customer data will be used to train external foundational AI models, said Bharat Sandhu, the company\u2019s SVP for AI and application development platform. The company will host its own large language models (LLMs) in its own data centers where possible, and any data sent out to external LLMs for processing will be masked or anonymized, he said.\n\nOther major enterprise software vendors have made similar generative AI announcements this month, with varying degrees of precision and precipitation in their timelines.\n\nSalesforce went first, saying it will add a conversational AI assistant, Einstein Copilot, to the right-hand rail of all of its apps. It will conduct pilot trials with a limited number of customers before year-end, but has not said when the assistant will become generally available.\n\nOracle was next, saying it expected to add generative AI-powered capabilities to many of its cloud applications. Some of these are already in trials with a few customers, but users of its Fusion Cloud ERP, HCM, and customer experience tools may have to wait six months for Oracle\u2019s generative AI features to become generally available, while the wait for users of its Clinical Digital Assistant could be up to a year.\n\nServiceNow, the last to announce, will likely be the first to deliver. It said it will make its generative AI chatbot Now Assist generally available from September 29 with the Vancouver release of its workflow platform. But where SAP and Salesforce plan to make their generative AI tools available to all users, only ServiceNow customers who purchase special add-on packs for Now Assist will get access to the generative AI functionality, limiting the number of users the company has to serve at launch.\n\nWhite dismissed the threat from the competition, saying, \u201cWe\u2019re aware of lots of claims and lots of hype in the broader ecosystem. We\u2019re focused on delivering the customer value.\u201d\n\nSlow but steady\n\nSAP\u2019s slow-but-steady approach is more typical of the company, and perhaps understandable given the diversity of the company\u2019s product portfolio and the complexity of its code base.\n\nJoule is just one of three main layers in SAP\u2019s AI strategy, said Sandhu. The foundation layer, embedded in its Business Technology Platform, handles orchestration, abstraction of third-party models, and such, while the second layer is composed of AI capabilities embedded in applications.\n\nSAP is already using generative AI to help users create job descriptions or interview questions, process delivery notes, or forecast which clients will default on payments.\n\nThe new generative AI interface will eventually sit on top of all of SAP\u2019s applications as a common engagement layer that can call on their existing functions, Sandhu said. But it won\u2019t be available everywhere all at once.\n\n\u201cOne of the unique aspects of SAP is it has a vast portfolio of applications,\u201d Sandhu said. \u201cWe are rolling it out piece by piece. By next year you\u2019ll see it fully integrated into most of our applications. It just takes time to integrate with all these different applications.\u201d\n\nFor now, the company is only committing to making Joule generally available before the end of this year on SAP Start, the home page for its cloud applications, and in SuccessFactors, its SaaS HCM tool.\n\nSAP plans to roll Joule out to the public cloud edition of its S\/4HANA application suite early next year.\n\nCustomers using on-premises versions of SAP\u2019s applications, even of S\/4HANA, will have to wait for access to the generative AI features \u2014 perhaps forever. In July, SAP CEO Christian Klein told analysts that SAP\u2019s newest innovations will only be delivered in the public cloud, or in private clouds via its Rise with SAP all-in-one offering.\n\nWhite reiterated that position at the launch of Joule: \u201cWe will be delivering our AI capabilities like Joule as part of our cloud value. Generative AI really only works as part of a cloud model,\u201d she said. \n\nEnergy balance\n\nSAP\u2019s choice of name for its AI assistant \u2014 the joule is the SI unit of energy \u2014 puts the spotlight on one of the downsides of the increasing use of generative AI: the energy it consumes. SAP has been buying green energy for the data centers that power its own operations for years, and has committed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions along its entire value chain by 2030. Moving its customers to the cloud, where it can run applications more efficiently, is one way it hopes to achieve that, it has said.