Technology Innovation

4 Posts authored by: Anne Hardy

During the last few months we worked very hard to capture SAP's Technology Vision in a concise and easy-to-read paper… And here we are: happy to give you the first edition of the SAP Technology Vision Thought Leadership Paper!

Our vision is driven by an analysis of the main forces and trends that we believe will continue influencing our industry and will drive the next wave of innovations. We present our vision to you as a selection of strategic objectives that we believe any business should carefully think about and analyze. Our selection of strategic objectives covers Analytics, Big Data, Business Networks, Cloud, Mobility, Security and more. We hope that you'll find this first edition of SAP Technology Vision most valuable to you.

Here's an outline of what you'll find in this 22-page document:

  • Foreword by SAP CTO and Executive Board Member Vishal Sikka.
  • Executive Summary
  • Improve your business with analytics and mass-data solutions
  • Increase competitiveness by leveraging cloud computing and virtualization
  • Build better connections to your customers and partners through networks
  • Provide information anywhere, anytime, on any device
  • Offer the right user experiences
  • Secure your data
  • Conclusion

As we will use this paper as a foundation for several derivatives and "value-added" content in the next few months please let us know what you think and what improvements you wish we bring in the second edition. We look forward to hearing from you!

About a month ago Philipp Skogstad, an inspired SAP colleague, encouraged me to attend a one-week Customer Focused Innovation course at Stanford Graduate School of Business. What could me more relevant for me than a course on how to best create a culture of innovation that takes place at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford?

I applied, I got accepted and I got delighted. I joined 56 other executive students, from all over the world, in a fantastic week of learning that ended on Nov 4 2011.


What did I learn?


First I learned how to collaboratively and quickly change a Nascar racing car tire. You may wonder why it is relevant to my job… It was a great lesson about the power of learning by doing and failing. It also revealed the power of competition for fast innovation. The racing car tire change was a nice and energizing team building exercise before we got into the course…


On Day 1, we started with an inspiring discussion about Rite Solutions, where we learned about another way to define a company around Friends Enjoying Work (FEW). Small and interesting company that created “Mutual Fun”, an internal stock marketplace for ideas.

We then began our learning journey about Design Thinking.

Our challenge was to “Humanize the ground experience of jetBlue”. I joined a team of five. My teammates were Ted, Jamie, Mitchel and Khashi. Our design thinking coach was Carissa Carter, co-founder of Parallel Design Labs.

We empathized with passengers by observing and interviewing them during an afternoon at San Francisco International Airport. I teamed up with Mitchel Chang from Trend Micro and we extracted amazing stories from passengers, airport staff and jetBlue employees. We came back with more than 20- rich stories that would shape the rest of our journey with design thinking.


On Day 2, Charles O’Reilly lead the morning with a course and discussion about the challenge of change and the biggest obstacle to change in most companies: cultural lock-in. “Cultures are expectations about the right ways to behave”. Charles explained why ambidextrous organizations are often necessary in order to address disruptive changes.

We then learned about of the human brain and how to best design for it. We learned about the importance of emotions and behaviors in buying decisions and loyalty.

We then continue with Phases 2 and 3, Define and Ideation, of our design thinking journey.

Each of the 10 teams defined a Point of View = User-Need-Insight. My team’s point of view (POV) was: “New travelers need to feel in control through the airport experience because traveling is its own language”. We then brainstormed ideas of solutions to our POV. This phase was amazingly productive. We had so many ideas! We filled a board with post-its in less than 20 minutes.

Then the most difficult was left: agreeing on which ideas to keep. Each of us had 6 votes: 2 on highest chances to succeed, 2 on most desirable, 2 on most break-through. We finally kept two ideas: “blue buddy” boarding-pass with tracking device and free “Fresh Blue” drinks and fruits at gate.


On Day 3, Robert Burgelman talked about Strategic Leadership. The title of his talk was “Strategy is destiny”. He talked about Culture and Strategy and explained the importance of Strategic Leadership for sustaining successful organizations. I captured a few inspiring quotes that I thought I’d share: “Culture needs strategy to be aimful and strategy needs culture to be realized”; “Real strategists are not market-driven, they drive the market”; “We need leaders who do those things that are difficult and not natural”. I really liked one of his models where he showed that a strategic leadership culture is what holds together the links between Product Market Positioning (What it takes), Distinctive Competence (What you have got), Official Strategy (What you say) and Strategic Action (What you do).  When the links are stretching too hard, overall adjustments are necessary.

The following lecture was about Marketing. We learn about Conjoint, a tool for analyzing and understanding customer preferences. While many students – in Marketing - knew about Conjoint and had already practiced with it, it was a discovery for me. I thought that the method was very powerful for incorporating customer preferences into product/service planning and pricing decisions. I was convinced that we should use Conjoint for defining our Developer Program offerings…

In the afternoon we headed over to the Design School, for the 3rd time, this time for starting to build and test our prototypes. With my team we got busy at building 2 prototypes, one for “Blue Buddy” and another one for “Fresh Blue”. We solicited feedback from 3 external volunteer testers (Stanford students and friends). It gave us very useful insights about the usefulness and usability of our prototypes and used the feedback to decide on what to do next. We decided to give up on “Fresh Blue”, not because we had negative feedback but because it was less breakthrough and less interesting to share. From now on we would focus on enhancing “Blue Buddy” for the real testing, next day, with jetBlue Executives.


Day 4 was the highlight of the training. Jeffrey Pfeffer lead a discussion about Laura Esserman, UCSF Breast cancer surgeon, who had several dreams that would transform UCSF Breast care center. The case study and discussion were all about the power of overcoming resistance to change. We analyzed Laura, her qualities and her challenges, both personal and institutional. Above all, what made her succeed in realizing her dreams for UCSF Breast care center, was her persistence and her ability to never take no as an answer. Her coaches told her: “Whatever you do always ask yourself: do you want to be right or do you want to get something done? Fight for doing, not for being right. And take care of those on your critical path, especially your enemies.”

The afternoon was the conclusion of our Design Thinking journey. Polishing of prototypes and real story-telling in front of jetBlue executives. 10 teams, 10 different Point of View, 10 unique demos. I was amazed and the jetBlue executives seemed very pleased about the results of the workshop. I got fully convinced by the power of design thinking as a methodology to design solutions to real-world challenges, any challenge.

We concluded the day with a party where several alumni students from the class of 2010 joined us and shared their stories about what they had done after they went back to their companies last year. All of them became design thinking coaches and had successfully applied design thinking to solve real challenges in their own company’s context. Then I wondered, why weren’t there more people from SAP at this class, especially since our own Hasso Plattner founded the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, a.k.a. Stanford, where the class spent most of its time? I took it as a personal task to get at least 5 SAP employees to the 2012 CFI class.


Last half day, Day 5, was on Brand and Social Media. We talked about the new importance of Social Media and the power of friends.

We talked about what Happiness means and how it impacts choices. Check out Jennifer Aaker’s research and We Feel Fine.

We also talked about how one could extend the Coca Cola Happiness Machineinto a successful marketing campaign for Coca Cola. We discussed many interesting ideas… again. All in all Jennifer is a big proponent of Story-telling and she asked each one of us to think about the power of Story-telling for our own businesses.


After 5 intense days of learning and doing, we all left, full of energy and commitments. We’ll stay connected, online and in spirit until we get together and tell our stories as alumnis during the 2012 class…


Don’t you want to sign up?

SAP is marking the beginning of a new era with the launch of its quarterly Technology Innovation Newsletter. Our goal is not only to keep you informed on the next generation technology platform, but also to involve you in the definition of SAP’s technology strategy moving forward.

When you subscribe to the new Technology Innovation Newsletter, you'll get up-to-date information on all aspects of SAP’s latest innovations. The newsletter will feature customer examples, blogs, articles, wikis, demos and much more — making it easy for you to stay involved. To subscribe, follow these four easy steps:

  1. Open your SCN profile to update it.
  2. Select the “Newsletters Communities” tab.
  3. Check the box: “Technology Innovation Newsletter.”
  4. Select “Save Changes.”

What You’ll Get

Each quarter, the Technology Innovation newsletter will present a digest of the most recent highlights of the Technology Innovation area on SDN. This will help you gain access to our latest developments for Mobile, In-Memory and Cloud Computing, including the   latest innovations from our labs.

In addition, we want to continually capture your feedback about SAP’s latest technologies and hear your thoughts and ideas.

How it Started

About nine months ago, Kaj van de Loo created SAP’s Technology Strategy team, which was made up of three sub-teams: the Co-Innovation and Collaboration team headed by me, Michael Bechauf’s Platform Strategy team, and Richard Probst's Infrastructure Strategy team.

SAP TechEd 2010 was a natural milestone and platform for testing our newest ideas and concepts through Idea place, Code Exchange, the first Innovation Weekend events, and the new Technology Innovation area on SDN. Each new idea results from collaborative work between SAP’s Technology Strategy team, SAP’s SCN team, and many of you.

My team will continue what we started and tested at SAP TechEd 2010. Our aim is to develop new ideas or concepts that promote a dialogue about Technology Innovation and, more generally, around SAP’s technologies.

What’s Next

As we move forward, we have big plans, including the following:

  • We will continue to develop existing and new ideas or concepts that promote a dialogue around Technology Innovation and, more generally, around SAP’s technologies.
  • We will share more diverse innovation content –be it ideas, concepts, prototypes, or papers.
  • We will bring more of SAP’s latest technologies into SAP’s Co-Innovation Labs and make them accessible to customers and partners.
  • We will invite you to co-develop co-innovation concepts and initiatives with us, such as Idea Place, Code Exchange, Innovation Weekend and more.
  • We will bring Innovation Weekend events to various continents and ask you for your feedback on how to make the Innovation Weekend events most beneficial to you.

So get started by visiting the Technology Innovation area on SDN, signing up for the new Technology Innovation Newsletter, and making your voice heard through forums and Idea Place sessions. Take this opportunity to influence SAP’s future technologies – and, last but not least, help us to improve it!

I have often been impressed by the large number of creative and innovative minds at SAP. Surprisingly, most of those minds are quite unknown both inside and outside of SAP. Furthermore – and unfortunately – their work is often as unknown as they are. Learning about such work has always been energizing and inspiring for me. Couldn’t it be the same for others? Couldn’t it be that by sharing it, exposing it to numerous and diverse backgrounds and eyes, and discussing about it inside and outside of SAP, when applicable, such work could inspire others, spread creativity and innovativeness to others and benefit to the entire SAP Community Network?

Seven years of  SAP TechEd Demo Jam competitions have made ideas and innovative work of the SAP communities more visible and have significantly grown in interest and participation over the years. Unfortunately those competitions are not well suited for all types of ideas and work: finalists and winners are most likely those with entertaining or visual demos. How could we bring more light, a window, to all types of ideas and work?

This is what a few of us at SAP have started to work on about 6 months ago.

We never had any doubt that the SAP Community Network web site could be a potential channel: SCN is huge, the communities are diverse with SAP employees, customers, partners and others, and the SCN web site is popular. That’s where we started to look.

In SCN we found several areas that were already sharing about innovation at SAP, some of them like the BusinessObjects Innovation Center having become quite popular. Unfortunately those areas are not connected to each other and sometimes not obvious to relate to innovation.

Initial thoughts led us on a path to create two new areas on SDN: one about SAP’s Technology Strategy, to share about the work of my team, and another one about innovation, to share as much as possible about the work of all SAP innovation teams. Our objective was to reuse as much as possible of existing areas and content when both possible and appropriate.

After some further thoughts some of us had some doubts that the SAP’s Technology Strategy would be dynamic enough to deserve its own independent area. We soon decided to combine the Technology Strategy area and the Innovation area into a single one that we would call Technology Innovation.

And here we are: after a few months and several iterations with several colleagues and SAP mentors, we are ready to launch the new Technology Innovation area.

Its main features are: SAP’s Technology Strategy, an innovation news series that features a new innovation – project, prototype, idea, scientific paper, etc.  - every week or 2 weeks and, a video series that features SAP executives speaking about hot technology topics such as On Demand, Mobile, Cloud management, Virtualization infrastructure, In-Memory. In addition we list all the different ways in which anyone from SCN could get involved in Technology Innovation and co-innovate with SAP.

Check it out and tell us what you think on Idea Place.I hope that the new area will bring more light on all creative ideas and work of SAP employees and members of SAP Community Network. I hope that the new area will “dial-up” your desire to team up with all of us at SAP whose mission is to make SAP innovate more, faster and better.


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