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Mark Yolton

Co-Innovating the Future with #SAP Idea Place

Posted by Mark Yolton in About SCN on Mar 15, 2013 11:03:06 PM

New Idea Platform and Refreshed Process Invites Your Innovation Ideas


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SAP has re-launched its Idea Place with new capabilities, including greater transparency for users, voting and gamification, support for mobile, and other features. Today, Idea Place is where customers openly share their ideas with SAP for product enhancements, receive feedback from product management, and enable SAP to execute on its grand vision to become a leading social business.


Recently, SAP Idea Place surpassed a total of 600 crowdsourced ideas implemented or in development for imminent release within SAP products.


As SAP's Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Jonathan Becher said recently in Target Marketing Magazine:


"We've made a big bet on social at SAP. We infuse social in everything we do... I'd go so far as saying the 'S' in SAP now stands for social."



Big Bet Realized


The vision of SAP Idea Place – which is part of the vibrant, global SAP Community Network (SCN) – is to provide disruptive innovation through breakthrough ideas, while connecting with audiences that SAP had not reached before.


And in the 2+ years since the initial pilot, Idea Place has generated:

  • 8,700+ Submitted Ideas
  • 9,000+ Comments
  • 53,000+ Votes
  • 380+ Delivered Features
  • 260+ Ideas in Development & Testing 



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How Idea Place Works


Idea Place hosts innovation campaigns called “Idea Sessions” which are typically based on a topic or a question posed to the community. Through social tools, SCN members can connect with the idea submitters and begin to develop those ideas. The ideas can be further refined, voted on, and prioritized.


Then, the product management team analyzes the ideas, with ranking provided by the number of votes and strategic fit (alignment with product direction, feasibility, and business benefit).


The ideas are evaluated and (if approved) implemented into a future product release. Whether an idea is ultimately approved or not, the appropriate SAP product team must update the status of each idea, so the submitter knows where his/her idea stands in the review cycle.





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What’s New in Idea Place?


As of January of this year, SCN made some key improvements to the process and functionality of the platform.


  • Transparency:  Each “Idea Session” now requires product managers to share their internal ideation management process, including insights into the review and implementation cycles.
  • Increasing Quality:  SAP provides education on how to build quality idea submissions, accompanied by early-stage feedback from product managers.
  • Voting and Gamification: Voting is transparent, meaning anyone can see every person who voted up or down an idea. Also, leaderboards show top contributors by session.
  • Mobile: A mobile experience is being developed for easy on-the-go access.



The Benefits of Crowdsourcing Ideas


Before Idea Place, most customers had to go through tedious manual methods to submit product suggestions. This process was inflexible, not scalable, and provided little transparency to the customer who submitted original suggestions.


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Idea Place now gives customers their own online suggestion platform, a voice, and a process for being heard. In fact, SAP doesn’t list a product on the site unless the corresponding product management team agrees to monitor, evaluate, and respond to ideas.


Moreover, other customers can comment on, add to, or vote on ideas to give additional weight to higher quality submissions. Throughout the process, product teams give status updates and explanations to ensure transparency.


SAP partners can benefit, too. For example, through an Idea Session called Suggest Mobile Apps users can request new mobile apps they would like to see running on SAP. By keeping the requests open, other customers can support these ideas, thereby increasing the demand.


If a significant amount of demand is shown for an app, an SAP partner can begin working with the customers to build the solution – with or without SAP. This enables the ecosystem to scale while SAP plays a more supportive, enabling role. Currently, there are 400 ideas in the Suggest Mobile Apps idea session alone!


For SAP product managers, Idea Place provides a scalable way to co-innovate with customers and partners. Traditional product feedback has relied solely on user groups or costly one-to-one interactions. These traditional approaches are still beneficial but do not scale to large audiences, nor do they support shorter implementation cycles.


Idea Place allows SAP to capture customer needs in a transparent, quantitative way – not just from IT and admins who install and run SAP, but also from everyday users of SAP products. And by supporting shorter implementation cycles, features can be added in weeks rather than months or years.


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To illustrate the degree to which SAP has adopted this crowdsourcing model, our BusinessObjects teams now use Idea Place as the primary feedback channel across their entire suite of 40 products. They have already implemented 136 ideas in their BI 4.x Suite with 123 more coming in the next release.



The “Social” in SAP is Here to Stay


Organizations today recognize that “social” is no longer an option. It is a requirement.


Companies must adopt social technologies, tools, behaviors and practices to be competitive. Customers today also have higher expectations and more channels in which to voice their opinions. They want not only to be heard, but also to see their feedback acted upon with transparency from vendors.


We at SAP are excited by this new reality and see a wonderful opportunity. We have an obsession with both customer success and product innovation. This mindset also drives our approach to “socializing” other functions within SAP (e.g., marketing, customer support, IT, and HR) as we round into a complete social business.


SAP Idea Place brings these concepts together: socially enabled tools and processes to foster open collaboration, continuous outside-in innovation crowdsourced directly from customers and the partners who serve them, and a relentless focus on customer success fostered by listening and responding to the realities of their experiences and business challenges.



We'd Like to Hear From You


Please share your thoughts about Idea Place in the comments section below. Also visit the new Idea Place to start reviewing and submitting your own evolutionary or breakthrough ideas. We look forward to hearing from you!



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