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Valuable insights from a two-day SAP internal summit about the impact of user research towards product success, business decision-making, and accessibility, engaging more than 1,400 participants, 71 internal and external speakers, 44 sessions, and 23 content hours.

At this year’s annual SAP Product Insights Summit, more than 1,400 product leaders, designers, developers, and user researchers came together to discuss how product insights and exceptional user experiences are essential for achieving continuous success. In this blog, we are going to share some key take-aways that may be relevant to you, whether you are an entry-level product professional, an expert, or a manager.

The summit was divided into four tracks — success stories, business decisions, accessibility, and skills, all echoing the importance of user insights in building better product experiences. The goal of the summit was to connect peopleencourage them to exchange ideas, and to inspire attendees to drive transformations within their own product teams.

Let us look at some of the keynotes.


The power of actionable ​product insights

Malini Leveque, Vice President of Global Product Research and User Insights at SAP, kicked off the summit by emphasizing the tremendous business opportunity presented by the global SaaS market and focusing the audience on a key question:                                                       "How will product teams shape the future of our product experiences for our customers with creativity, ingenuity and most importantly – Empathy!“                                                                                                             

Whereas business outcomes, for example customer retention, are highly visible, the driving factors of product insights are often hidden below the surface. ALT text: The image shows a blue colored iceberg in front view including its visible structure above the sea and the invisible part under the sea. The part above the sea is described as business outcomes and the one under the sea as product insights. The background color has a blue and turquoise tone.

She emphasized the importance of data-driven product insights in building products that customers love, stating that, “product insights can help teams better understand their customer needs, how the product is being used, identify areas for improvement, prioritize features, improve the user experience, and delight users.” She highlighted that summative product experience insights, such as user satisfaction, usability, and efficiency, can be used to predict business outcomes such as churn and renewal rates, upsell, and customer advocacy. By using product experience insights as predictive indicators for business outcomes, companies can deliver product-led growth by continuously engaging customers and driving more efficient acquisition, retention, and expansion.

Malini shared a success story with SAP Concur Expense, showcasing how data-driven decision-making led to an increase in usage, reduced support ticket volume, and improved product satisfaction. SAP Concur Expense helps customers track, analyze, and report on spending.

For further insights into Malini's keynote address, delve into this article.


Fireside chat with Philipp Herzig and Arin Bhowmick

The summit highlighted how understanding the user journey and crafting seamless product experiences are catalysts that drive product planning, design, and development iterations, ultimately leading to outstanding user outcomes. Philipp Herzig, SVP and Head Cross Product Engineering and Experience, and Arin Bhowmick, Chief Design Officer at SAP, had a fireside chat discussing how SAP can better infuse product insights in their product design and development processes.


Philipp's insights shed light on the ever-changing nature of user experience in today's technological landscape. He pointed out that with this, the definition of experience is continually evolving. Recently, especially the emergence of new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), or augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) is shaping the way users interact with products and services. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for product teams to stay ahead of the curve and deliver intuitive and delightful experiences that resonate with the new generation of users.


Arin echoed this sentiment, stating, "What I'm really after is a change in mindset that user experience matters. At the end of the day, when we deliver a product feature, do we know it can and will be used by users? Does it help solve a problem? Does it help solve a problem for one person or for users at scale? Does it help users get their job done, and add to their experience? And that's the science and art we need to bring into product management as well to make sure we validate the requirements."


Inclusive technologies for today's world

Bryce Johnson, an avid advocate of inclusive design at Microsoft, took us on a virtual tour of Microsoft's Inclusive Tech Lab. The lab has been purpose-built to engage the disability community in creating more accessible products. The lab's remarkable creation, the Xbox Adaptive Controller, exemplifies Microsoft's commitment to recognizing exclusion, learning from diversity, and solving for individual needs, benefiting many.

Bryce emphasized the importance of listening to the disability community's voices rather than relying solely on empathy. This approach ensures that products are shaped with a wide range of users in mind, catering to their diverse needs and abilities.

Microsoft advocate Bryce Johnson shows the Microsoft Adaptive D-pad Button. ALT text: Bryce Johnson, the presenter, showcases the Microsoft Adaptive D-pad Button's application as he guides a tour through the Microsoft Inclusive Tech Lab. While presenting, he sits in his private office in front of his desk.

Microsoft's Inclusive Tech Lab sets a remarkable example of how technology can empower and include all voices. By actively engaging with diverse perspectives, Microsoft is championing a more inclusive world where technology serves everyone's needs.


Demystifying metrics and speed to insights in qualitative research

In a dynamic session led by UserTesting, attendees gained valuable insights into using research studies and innovative tools to analyze test results efficiently. The session emphasized the power of metrics and summary pages, leveraging machine learning to pinpoint outliers and moments of frustration. This feature benefits researchers, designers, product managers, and stakeholders alike, facilitating a comprehensive understanding of user behavior and experiences.


Dana Taggart (Senior Solution Consultant, Global Accounts, UserTesting) highlighted the accessibility of data within the system, enabling further in-depth research for those who desire detailed insights. Ultimately, the session offered both an enriching glimpse into the capabilities of the user testing tool and how it can speed up the analysis process while uncovering valuable data for well-informed decision-making.

Overall, attendees walked away with a clearer understanding of how to harness the power of user testing to drive data-driven insights and optimize product experiences for success.


Craft vs expertise vs participation — How leading teams find balance

Three significant forces identified by Andrew Hogan. ALT text: A light blue background slide titled "New Forces, New Mindsets" with text. On the left: "New Forces" include "Number of Participants," "Work Has Changed," and "Everything is WIP." Arrows point to the center indicating "New Mindset," with actions like "Offer Surprising Transparency," "Create Mutual Understanding," and "Make Work About More Than Work."

In an insightful session led by Andrew Hogan from Figma, the audience explored the challenges and opportunities brought by the evolving work landscape. Three significant forces were identified: the amplification of participation in teams, change in the way of working, and the acceleration of constant work-in-progress cycles. These forces called for three vital mindset shifts: embracing transparency in work progress, fostering mutual understanding in diverse teams, and recognizing the importance of meaningful connections beyond work discussions.


Amidst these changes, product teams have adopted a more customer-centric approach, valuing feedback as a driving force for product improvement. Companies like Figma are always listening to users, emphasizing the necessity of continuous discovery for product enhancement. Furthermore, insights professionals are urged to grab attention in an information-saturated environment, employing innovative methods to capture and syndicate valuable insights and engage teams effectively.


Design culture as transformative practice

Dr. Gesche Joost, a distinguished Professor of Design Research at the Berlin University of the Arts, captivated attendees with her focus on exploring the dynamic interaction between humans and technology in the digital society. Leading the Design Research Lab at the Berlin University, she delves into innovative ways of co-designing with users to meet diverse needs effectively.

In her enlightening session, Gesche emphasized the importance of starting every process directly with the customer and end users, engaging in participatory sessions and user research to truly understand their requirements. She urged the collaboration of product management, engineering, and designers in an iterative co-designing process, aiming to leverage their combined capacities to simplify customers' lives.

With a remarkable track record, including representing the German government and serving on esteemed boards like SAP SE and ING DiBa, Gesche's insights shed light on the essential interplay between human-centered design and technology, paving the way for a more inclusive and connected digital future.


Spark, nurture, and fire up empathy to drive innovation

In a thought-provoking session, guest speaker Joana de Quintanilha from Forrester emphasized the pivotal role of empathy in understanding customer journeys, driving innovation, and enhancing product experiences. Diving into the nuances of empathy, she urged organizations to find ways to spark and nurture empathy within their teams, enabling both incremental and transformational innovation.

In the session, Joana highlighted the importance of starting with one-on-one empathy, zooming in on individual customers to grasp their feelings and perspectives at a human level. To spark empathy, alignment on the target audience is crucial. Joana shared the example of Airbnb, sharing how empathy is multilayered, as the empathy map would not only include guests but also hosts, because “if they don't empathize with the host, they may not have a product to sell”.

Airbnb Guest Journey and the Airbnb Host Journey.  SAP session featuring Forrester’s Joana de Quintanilha. ALT text: The left part half of the image showcases the Airbnb guest journey, featuring a sequence of 6 images. The first image shows a woman engrossed in her laptop at a café. The second shows another woman with a suitcase looking at her phone in a city setting. The third showcases both women sharing a joyful moment outdoors in the city. The fourth image shows two women and a man enjoying drinks at a cozy dining table. The fifth shows a woman peacefully asleep on a bed, and the last image shows the first woman, exuding happiness in the urban cityscape. The right half of the image illustrates the Airbnb host journey, depicted through a sequence of 6 images. In the first image, a couple sits on the floor beside open cardboard boxes, suggesting a recent move into a new house. The second showcases the couple painting a wall blue. The third presents a warmly lit room with blue wall and bed sheets. The fourth image captures the couple in an office setting: a woman writes in a notebook while engaging with a man holding an iPad. The fifth shows a different couple joyfully taking a photo and enjoying an ice-cream by a canal. The final image portrays a man in an office setting, attentively using an iPad next to a cup of coffee.

Offering actionable takeaways, she encouraged attendees to immerse themselves in observational research and embrace language that creates empathy nudges. With empathy as a catalyst, organizations can discover and address customer pain points effectively, leading to more meaningful and impactful product experiences that resonate with customers on a deeper level.



The summit underlined the importance of understanding end users, their needs, and each customer-individual market landscape. Collaboration between designers, researchers, product managers, and engineers is crucial to gather feedback, apply design thinking, and create inclusive and accessible experiences.

Ultimately, the key to customer success lies in adopting a user-centric approach, validating requirements, and striving to deliver products that truly address users' needs. A strong focus on improving product experience quality, task efficiency, usefulness, and usability is undeniably linked to successful business performance. The summit's message was clear: the art and science of exceptional user experiences should be at the heart of user insights.

In this spirit of a user centric approach, a new end-user feedback program will launch at SAP in September 2023. Its new GDPR compliant User Research Panel will provide everyone doing user research access to end-users. For them, the Panel is a great opportunity to influence the product planning and roadmap. Are you interested to register as a user or to use the Panel? Please check here for more information or meet us at the DSAG annual congress in Bremen on September 19-21.

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