Adrian Simpson, Chief Innovation Officer SAP UK & Ireland (Photo: SAP)
Adrian Simpson, Chief Innovation Officer SAP UK & Ireland (Photo: SAP)

SAP is piloting a new organizational role, the Chief Innovation Officer (CINO). In an interview with SAP.info, Adrian Simpson, first in the role in the UK & Ireland, discusses what the job is about.

SAP.info: At this time, there are only a handful of SAP regional market units looking at having CINOs: UK & Ireland, France, Belux, Netherlands, Italy, and Nordics. What is the purpose of this role, and how did SAP decide which markets to introduce it in?

Adrian Simpson: The main purpose of the role is for us to help spread the word about SAP innovation and product strategy to our customers, partners, influencers, and SAP employees. It is a spokesperson type of role, sometimes called Chief Technology Architect.

What we are really trying to achieve with it is to help shape the perception of SAP in the market as a leading technology innovator, showing the strength of our portfolio against people’s perceptions of SAP as just an ERP company. SAP has changed massively over the last few years and we need to be able to articulate the importance of these changes to our customers.

The role is in a pilot program at the moment. We want to see if this is a role that could be successful for SAP. The regional markets it’s being introduced in meet certain criteria: for example, is there an appetite to invest in this kind of role in the market? Is it the right size of market unit? Has it got the right kind of growth profile? Is there the capability within the SAP organization to have this kind of role? So, the decision where to introduce the role is being linked to capability and desire within those regional market units, and to find out if the role adds value to the organization.

…would you say this is an evangelism role?
Simpson: It’s slightly different. Evangelism is part of the role definitely, but I think there are other things that go with it, as well. The difference for me is around the thought leadership angle.  This is not just us evangelizing about what SAP does. It’s actually about us having opinions on what’s happening in the industry, technology, and the trends in the marketplace.

What is your motivation to do this work?
Simpson: For me the motivation is the joy I get when talking to a customer, and I can see there’s a light bulb moment and they say, “I get it. I understand why you’re moving in that direction. I understand its value to me as a customer of SAP.”

That to me is so satisfying – that I am able to bring knowledge and information that allows people to do something new, to understand how we as SAP can support them in their journey. That to me is the most enthusiastic part of the role.

For more, including Simpson’s thoughts on industry, technology and marketplace trends, read the full interview on SAP.info.