Kathy Gibson reports from SAP TechEd in Barcelona – Space has always fascinated people; and today most of our communication would not exist without satellites in space.

At the centre of this is software. “Technology is the golden nugget where things become connected, smart, and can at autonomously,” says Bernd Leukert, member of the executive board at SAP.

The fourth industrial revolution may bring new challenges but the opportunities are huge, he adds.

Tellingly, IT budget has started to increase as business recognise it’s the enabler for new business. “IT will become the liberators of the fourth industrial revolution,” says Leukert.

“It is our chance to change the company, to change the industry, to change the world.”

To do this, he says, IT has to free the data to free the business.

“The use of data is not new, what is new is that the volumes of data will increase every year. The numbers are hard to imagine, says Leukert. “Similar to space, data is becoming almost infinite.”

This data is from a variety of services, enhanced by blockchains, from social media and satellites. “So processing data is not enough anymore. You need to transform it into meaningful information that creates value.

“And all of this must happen in realtime.”

In fact, SAP HANA is being used to process data brought from space by the European Space Agency (ESA).

But this data also has a commercial application, with Munich Re analysing it to better understand natural phenomena and the risk associated with them.

Andreas Siebert, head of geospatial solutions: corporate underwriting at Munich Re, explains that modelling risk is complicated if it needs to take into account information from a variety of course.

Many of these data could be delivered by earth observation,” Siebert says. “Having access to these data sets lets us run our analysis more effectively.”

This allows the company to improve portfolio and claims management, while improving risk prevention and mitigation strategies, he says.

Leukert points out how technology has allowed two such different companies as Munich Re and ESA to work together to enhance business value.

“And the good news is that this kind of thing is possible for every company,” he says.