SAP nabs new global AI head from Microsoft, Walter Sun

Walter Sun : SAP : New global head of AI

SAP SE has announced the appointment of Walter Sun as global head of AI, starting effective immediately. This move is a significant change of hats for Sun after an 18-year run with Microsoft, leaving his role as VP of Copilot Applied Artificial Intelligence for business applications.

SAP CEO Christian Klein announced during his keynote address at SAP’s flagship event, Sapphire 2023, that the company will now prioritize AI and has begun the process with a significant collaboration with Microsoft to embed generative AI into many of its offerings.

SAP has had a string of announcements to bolster its AI innovation efforts, including last week’s unveiling of its partnership with Google Cloud to enhance its Open Data Cloud with new generative AI solutions.

With its vision to pioneer reliable and responsible AI for businesses, SAP has now bet on Sun’s proven track record of driving technological innovation and his strategic business leadership to play a pivotal role in strengthening the company’s AI efforts.

Sun joined Microsoft in 2005 and has held multiple senior positions in scientific and product development, leading to his most recent role at the helm of an interdisciplinary team to develop business-ready AI and ML capabilities.

Notably, Sun founded Bing Predicts, which leveraged anonymized and aggregated data for predictive analytics, and has delivered many AI features across Microsoft’s portfolio, including for Bing Search, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform.

In a statement, Sun said: “I’m thrilled to be joining SAP at a time when the company that invented enterprise software is once again on the threshold of redefining how business runs.

“AI has never been more important. I believe at SAP, we have a unique opportunity to fundamentally change the way in which companies operate, using AI on a much larger scale in business practices than ever before. We have the breadth of applications, customers, scenarios and people that allow us to best leverage the power of generative AI across all industries.”

After obtaining his PhD in statistical signal and image processing and computer vision with applications in medical imaging from MIT, Sun went on to work for BlackRock Financial Management as a quantitative portfolio analyst and at Apple Inc. as a senior software engineer and scientist.

His applied research includes work in stochastic processes, signal processing, machine learning and deep learning, operations research and large language models. He has been an adjunct professor at Seattle University and an affiliate faculty member at the University of Washington and is currently an advisory board member at Georgia Tech.

Thomas Saueressig, member of the executive board of SAP SE for SAP product engineering, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Walter Sun, a leader in enterprise AI with a long history of developing and deploying cutting-edge technology to solve key business problems.

“As SAP builds on its pole position in Business AI, Walter Sun is the perfect person to ensure we continue innovating to help our customers solve their most pressing problems.”