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Seeking Unicorns: Creating SAP’s Next Great Apps

April 8, 2016 by Tobias Essig 0

The second #innotakeoff competition, a three-day event held recently in California’s Bay Area, produced three winners that could just be the next big thing.

They are called unicorns – private companies valued at $1 billion or more – and today at least, they are not quite as rare as the legendary creatures they are named after.

“Today’s ‘unicorns – companies like Uber, Airbnb, Xiaomi, Didi Kuaidi, and Flipkart – all started with small teams,” said Carsten Linz, global head of the CIO Center for Digital Leadership at SAP.

“They built on modern platforms and elastic cloud infrastructures in order to scale-out their idea into a multi-billion dollar enterprise – and that happened in few years, and not in decades,” said Linz, who hosted the competition.

“By building on a powerful digital platform, you can focus all your energy on the core business ingredients: a unique business model, a compelling use-case, and seamless end-to-end business processes with a world-class user experience,” he told the #innotakeoff competitors during his opening speech.

More than 50 participants, some from Germany, France, and Israel, together with coaches and mentors took part in the #innotakeoff competition organized by the CIO Center for Digital Leadership and SAP’s Chief Design Officer at SAP’s Palo Alto campus.

The participants, organized into small teams of between two and five people in three categories – startups, students, and employees – were asked to develop prototype apps that would achieve one of three objectives: improve the work life of employees, employee productivity within a specific line of business, or manager efficiency using SAP HANA Cloud Platform, SAP Fiori, state-of-the-art IoT devices.

“Everyone is willing to collaborate and we like that we can use SAP HANA Cloud Platform. We are very excited,” said one participant, Daniela Gonzalez from the student team xShop, one of three winning teams.

What makes #innotakeoff so unique is that participants are helped throughout the three-day SAP InnoJam-style event by mentors and coaches who emphasize user design principles – with the ultimate goal to create the next great app at SAP.

“An application that doesn’t draw you in, and cannot be used immediately and intuitively to solve societal, business, or individual challenges is not a solution at all,” explained Sam Yen, chief design officer at SAP.

“In the digital economy, quickly meeting needs with engaging, even engrossing applications is becoming an absolute imperative,” he added. “When Carsten pitched #innotakeoff to me and my team, we were excited to join forces in a format where UX wasn’t an after-thought or a box to be checked. It was front and center, all the way through, and it shows in the results.”

Since every #innotakeoff team project was required to have an element of Internet of Things (IoT) or Big Data in it, the CIO Center for Digital Leadership provided the participants with Apple watches, drones, or Raspberry Pi’s and access to SAP HANA Cloud Platform IoT services.

And the Award Goes to…

On the final night of the event, and from over 100 initial idea submissions, three winners, one from each section, were honored with the “SAP Digital Innovation Award.” The winners now have the chance to join the prototype-2-live program as part of the SAP’s innovation incubation process.

“The final results will be consumable for all SAP employees in Q4 – just six months after the initial application period,” said Christian Hastedt-Marckwardt, senior director, Global Innovation Incubation at the CIO Center for Digital Leadership.

Who knows – one of them might even become the next unicorn.

Three Winning Teams of the Event Per Section

  • Startups: Bloom is focusing on performance management for the continguous workforce.
  • Students: xShop is defining future shopping experiences directly at the point of sale, e.g., improving sensor-driven personalized information to the shoppers’ mobile using Big Data and IoT.
  • SAP Employees: Path to Wellness (Bin Duan, Yixiao Song, Mani Kak, Gustavo Tamae Kakazu)

Having a personalized wellness plan offered to employees based on various criteria such as health status or the age might change the way people do their business trips and organize their work experience. The management of these plans could be done by a wellness manager from the company’s health department.

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