New SAP AppHaus Stimulates Creativity

Verschiebbare Möbel, viel offener Raum: Weitwinkel-Aufnahme von einem Workshop im AppHaus. (Foto: SAP)
Moveable furniture, a lot of open space: a wide-angle shot of a workshop in the AppHaus. (Photo: SAP)

Working with customers is where great creativity and innovation come from, Sam Yen, Global Head of Design, User Experience, and Frontline Apps at SAP AG told journalists, customers, and SAP employees at the launch of the new SAP AppHaus in Heidelberg last week.

Launched under the umbrella of the SAP Design and Co-Innovation Center (DCC), the SAP AppHaus has already hosted a number of customers, including game publishing company Gameforge, the German Ice Hockey League (DEL), and the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT). They attended the launch and demonstrated some of the solutions they designed with the DCC team.

New app space inspired by Bauhaus movement

Set in a former tobacco factory in the historic Landfried complex in downtown Heidelberg, the SAP AppHaus echoes aspects of a startup culture – in which new companies renovate industrial space and work in multidisciplinary teams.

Next page: AppHaus brings together different disciplines in one building

“The AppHaus concept is an homage to German design, an homage to Bauhaus,” Sam Yen said. Inspired by the Bauhaus movement, the AppHaus brings together different disciplines in the same building, using agile working methods in an environment that inspires creativity. The walls can be used as whiteboards and furniture can easily be rearranged to fit project needs.

Global head of the DCC, Andreas Hauser, said he was proud that SAP was riding the Design Thinking wave. “Design makes products competitive, and by bringing together business experts, designers, developers, customers, and users in a creative environment like the AppHaus, there is no limit to the new and innovative products we can design.”

Going places with Design Thinking

According to Hauser, the SAP AppHaus Heidelberg represents the next generation of the original AppHaus concept, taking proven innovation techniques like Design Thinking outside the walls of SAP and sharing them with customers. “In Heidelberg we can combine the best of both worlds: it is close enough to Walldorf to get all support from the headquarters of SAP and it is at the edge where we can try out new ways of working together with our partners and customers in an innovative non-standard office environment,” he said.


Next page: The making of the AppHaus

Peter Rasper, Head of Global Finance Infrastructure, Chief Operating Officer Global Finance & Administration at SAP AG, said at the event that the AppHaus could act as an anchor for other startups, which could settle around it with the same goal of enabling innovation and creativity.

The interior of the AppHaus was designed by the DCC team itself, in close cooperation with Global Facility Management. Hauser thanked the teams, saying, “They showed their creativity by individualizing each room and buying accessories that you would not expect in a typical office, in order to create a personalized working environment.”

AppHaus design inspired by Sherlock Holmes, Lego, and Bauhaus

The four meeting rooms have been decorated and named after key design principles embodied by the design work that takes place inside the building. The green, Victorian-style Sherlock Holmes room stands for the research and analysis that helps designers to ask users the right questions. The Lego room stands for the playfulness needed to find and assess solutions. The 1001 Arabian Nights room, decorated in an oriental style, inspires storytelling and imagination, while the Bauhaus room pays homage to Germany’s design heritage which focused on clear and simple solutions created through diverse skills.


Next page: How Customers Experience the AppHaus

“We were astonished by the amount of innovation we could really kick off with this workshop and the methodology,” said Markus Windelen, COO of Gameforge 4D. Gameforge attended a Design Thinking workshop with the goal of improving the user experience of their game portal. Windelen said the prototypes generated during the workshop were already in development. The DCC also held a two-day workshop to help the German Ice Hockey League (DEL) improve their fan experience. This resulted in a new dashboard application, which enables fans to visualize fun facts of their favorite teams and players. According to DEL head of Hockey Operations, Jörg von Ameln, “the output of the workshop was immense.”

Together with the Innovation Center Potsdam and the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT), the DCC worked on the design of the “Patient Data Explorer”, an SAP HANA-based application that allows easy access to and analysis of patient data from various sources. The solution aims to help doctors with the creation of therapy plans and accelerates research of future therapy approaches – potentially saving and improving the lives of patients. “This time, working and collaborating with SAP was a completely different and refreshing experience. SAP’s motivation, the close collaboration, and iterative approach lead to great results”, said Alexander Knurr from NCT.

SAP AppHaus approach delights jazz festival fans

The value of SAP’s design approach is also recognized outside of the standard SAP portfolio. For example, under the umbrella of the 15th Enjoy Jazz festival, the DCC welcomed 50 international event managers to design future festival experiences. They were delighted that the Enjoy Jazz Festival had the opportunity to be the first institution to enjoy the AppHaus creative space together with 50 cultural managers from all over Europe.