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On the 10th of September 2012, I started my fellowship in the Global SPM Service Innovation department with a team based in Palo Alto. Coming from the development organization and working as a Product Owner in my latest role, I was curious to enter the world of SAP field services. A big thank you at this point goes to michel.serie, Head of the SPM Service Innovation team, for providing this opportunity to me and to my management in the TIP CORE Lifecycle Management organization for letting me go to pursue it. The Service Innovation team has a mission to find effective ways to co-innovate with customers, to develop services around new solutions, and to contribute for accelerating the pace of innovation within SAP‘s own organization.

During the first month of the fellowship I have acquired insights into a series of innovation projects, which I will briefly explain here.

APJ Services Innovation Contest

The goal of the APJ Services Innovation Contest being driven by anna.stordahl is to deliver new services for customers in 2013, harnessing employee creativity and creating business impact. Employees can submit ideas including mock ups and process flows for all existing and potential SAP solutions in a Web application called Idea Garden. After entries are made in the Idea Garden, an extensive evaluation process takes place to determine the winners. The criteria for the evaluation comprise of:

  1. Alignment with SAP Services strategy
  2. Services revenue
  3. Potential market demand
  4. Geographical considerations

The Contest committee will sponsor the implementation of the Top 3 ideas, which are believed to lead to the best results in accordance with the criteria, honoring their inventors with a significant financial award. Below is an idea example “Packaged HCM Service for the MENA region”. According to the idea founder, its launch in the market was supposed to bring a cost saving factor of 40-50%.


Design Thinking

I participated in a Design Thinking (DT) workshop for the Database and Technology team conducted by heike.vangeel and jeremy.thomas2. I arrived early to help with the preparation of the working environment. As learned later at of the Institute for Design Thinking at Stanford, the creation of the space fostering creativity is an important step on the way to innovation, so we moved tables, chairs, sofas, boards around to have a space for the actual presentation and three work spaces for the teams. Soon about 12 participants arrived and the DT workshop was kicked off. During the presentation, I was impressed by one example for creative problem solving. 98% of infant incubators donated to the development countries stopped functioning due to incorrect maintenance within the first five years. As an answer to this problem, a bunch of domain experts, students and professional volunteers came together and, using an innovative design methodology, invented a new type of incubator. The equipment was built out of old Toyota car parts, which were easy to get at any point of time due to an advanced supply chain in the car industry, decreasing the production costs to only a few percent and providing a way to save lives for millions of infants.

After such an inspirational start, we were introduced to OUR Design Thinking challenge of the day “redesign the canteen experience”, – which in the words of DT experts means a topic for the teams to solve in the DT workshop. The fundamental principle of the DT is the user empathy – understanding of user needs. So we went to the canteen during the lunch time and conducted a series of interviews with the visitors and Bon Appétit staff asking them what they like and what could be improved to make their lunches even more enjoyable. I will describe the different DT techniques to foster individual and team creativity in an upcoming blogs. For me the most exciting moment of the workshop was the creation and presentation of the prototypes: when the participants were building their new solutions from simple materials, such as colorful wires, papers, balloons, stickers fully immersed into their envisioned better world and afterwards, usually in a role play, letting this new world become a reality. In the picture below you see me holding a happy meal box, which was just created from a newly designed paper refrigerator/heater, so employees can still enjoy fresh food as a convenient self-service in case they have a very tight schedule. The facility management expressed extremely positive feedback on the new ideas for canteen layout and its services, which came as no surprise as those ideas were grounded on what is called „field user research“, people centered.

Innovation Management Framework

My colleague marco.cigaina, based in Milan/Italy, wrote a book on how companies can foster innovation. The academic work is based on extensive research and is supported by practical examples from innovative companies and SAP – to my knowledge it is the first time for outlining the holistic approach for innovation management in the SAP history. The book will be first published internally giving the employees a chance to learn about the innovation management, derive projects to boost innovation in their area, and also contribute with actual innovation examples from their day-to-day life.

More about SPM Service Innovation in next blogs.