Expecting the Unexpected from SAP

SAP employees at the headquarters in Walldorf, Germany (Photo: SAP AG)

Say the name SAP and many think big, established software company. It’s true SAP’s reputation is built on a heritage of engineering for major companies. Indeed, 180,000 customers in 24 industries worldwide count on SAP to run their mission-critical systems with flawless precision. But behind the code is a unique cadre of people who are transforming what SAP stands for and how it operates.

The Makings of An Employer of Choice

Case in point is SAP’s newly launched “Run at your Best” employer campaign. Designed to empower employees to run at their best, it’s an extension of SAP’s ‘Run Better’ branding campaign. The premise is simple: people who work and live at their best make the world run better. Its programs foster a workplace that values risk-taking, respects unique individual talents, interests and aspirations, and lets employees work the way they need to for high performance in a fast-paced, global company.

As Susan Bor, senior vice president, SAP Global Recruiting, puts it, “Our strength lies in empowering every employee with the freedom to contribute not only to our customer’s success, but something much bigger.”

Chief among the campaign’s tenets is that every employee can have a global impact. Employees highlighted in the campaign’s ads tell their personal stories about how SAP unleashes their passions so they can make a difference in the world. This is why Tolkyn Nurusheva, SME Channel Sales Manager in SAP CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States-Russia), leapt at the chance to participate.  Nurusheva describes herself as a typical “Gen Y” person. Her adult life has revolved around technology like social media, instant communication and smart TV.  She enjoys finding and using new applications on a daily basis. This self-proclaimed, “Number One Apple fan,” believes SAP is bringing the consumer technology lifestyle to the corporate world. She couldn’t be prouder to be part of that commitment.

“When you consider how much of our time we spend at work, it is essential that we are ‘engaged’ as employees, and proud of the brand that each of us, in our own small way, represent and contribute to every day,” says Nurusheva. “In SAP Kazakhstan, we are a small team yet part of a huge global enterprise.”

Max Wenjun Zhou, member of the TIP Design and New Applications team (Screenshot: SAP)

Translated to SAP technology, employee engagement focuses on creating a ‘beautiful’ user experience. Max Wenjun Zhou, who develops code as a member of the TIP Design and New Applications team in SAP’s Shanghai office, typifies this customer-driven intensity. Impressed with the youthful, inventive team spirit he thrived under as an SAP intern, Zhou joined the company and is now a developer intent on the user-friendly experience.

“I hope to design code that brings customers the simplest, easiest, most comfortable UI experience,” Zhou says. “I think SAP is a great place to realize my passion, and I want even more talented people to join the company.”

Arun M shares a similar reason for his campaign participation. As a Designer/UI Developer at SAP Labs India in Bangalore, Arun pursues his lifelong interest in graphic and visual design, storytelling, and photography.

“Design is my passion and the people at SAP have supported and motivated my career growth since I started as a UI tester,” explains Arun. “I know I am delivering my best and that in turn, is having a positive impact on the world.”

The “Run at your Best” campaign reflects the SAP culture and programs that support employee empowerment as well as work/life balance. SAP provides a working environment where flexible working models in a global, virtual community are the norm. The Executive Board takes concrete action to respond to concerns voiced in the annual Employee Survey. Employees have informal conversations with senior leadership at “Coffee Corner” sessions. As a result, the most recent employee survey shows that 80 percent of employees say they would recommend SAP as a great place to work, 10 percentage points higher than the benchmark scores of IT industry peers.

Arun M, Designer/UI Developer (Screenshot: SAP)
SAP building in Walldorf, Germany (Photo: SAP AG)

Innovation Leadership through Design Thinking

To help employees accelerate innovation, SAP implemented “Design Thinking”, a creative work culture in which diverse teams of experts come together in a non-judgmental environment. Working from the end-user backwards to the technology, they iterate prototypes quickly, generating better ideas faster to produce the best solutions.

Hasso Plattner, SAP Co-Founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board, says, “We do Design Thinking because we want to link technology, business and human values. We want to bring the products we are developing closer to the user.”

Phase one of Design Thinking with eight Early Adopter Projects concluded in February 2012. The teams created several business scenarios and application prototypes for mobile and in-memory solutions, now validated by customers and productized by SAP. Based upon lessons learned from the early adopter projects, phase two began in April 2012 with 40 new projects being worked on in SAP Labs worldwide.

Seeding the Next Generation

Attracting top young talent that will help bring these innovations to life for customers is central to SAP’s transformation. Perhaps no other program embodies this quest like SAP University Alliances. Over 1,200 schools in more than 50 countries participate in the SAP University Alliances program worldwide. More than 225,000 students each year use SAP software in the classroom.

University Alliances directly supports SAP’s commitment to high-growth regions such as China. Through partnerships with over 40 Chinese member universities, thousands of Chinese students have already been trained on SAP ERP, Business Objects and ABAP in the last three years. Students graduate with better job opportunities by gaining hands-on knowledge of how software helps companies be best run businesses and. This is particularly important in China, where the employment of 6.5 million graduates each year is a major challenge and top government priority. Recently hundreds of students participated in the first-ever China SAPPHIRE Forum in Shenzhen where they learned about SAP’s strategy, customers and, career opportunities.

“Innovation is key for SAP, and there is no innovation without education,” emphasizes Elena Maria Ordonez del Campo, senior vice president, Global University Alliances. “We are committed to giving young people better opportunities, and in doing so, support the social and economic growth of the world. Better educated students mean better prepared future corporate leaders.”