SAP and Beiersdorf co-innovated to develop SAP Innovation Management, a solution that helps companies systematically foster ideas and develop innovations with unprecedented efficiency.
Every company, whatever its size, is brimming over with innovation potential, which is why today’s enterprises are on the look-out for creative methods to foster idea management. However, too often a lack of basic processes and structures means that some of a company’s innovative power and employee potential is simply going to waste. To ensure successful idea management, companies need a platform that motivates potential users.
SAP Innovation Management is the result of a cooperation project between SAP and Beiersdorf, along with other customers. It specifically addresses those challenges that companies struggle with most in their innovation processes.
“The product is tailored to what customers need and was developed in close collaboration with them,” says Jochen Mayerle, Chief Solution Expert at SAP. The solution unites all of the key processes in idea management ― from gathering ideas, setting up idea campaigns, and inviting feedback from peers to locating subject-matter experts and handing ideas over to product development.
Companies that use multiple software solutions for ideation are in real danger of letting good ideas slip through the cracks. That’s why Beiersdorf set it sights on creating a single solution that would combine plenty of versatile functions with the ability to support exchange and discussion across teams and geographies.
Another important factor for Beiersdorf was the user experience. After all, if entering ideas in the tool is enjoyable, then employees are more likely to do it.
“An ideation solution has to have a great ‘look and feel’ so that employees are motivated both to submit their own ideas and to evaluate and share opinions about the ideas entered by their peers. This last aspect is key, because it is the act of exchanging opinions that really gets the innovation process moving,” explains Alexander Ramin, Global Process & Application Solutions, Department Lead Innovation, Marketing and Sales at Beiersdorf Shared Services. The software must be simple and easy to use.
“We wanted to benefit from the co-innovation project by channeling our own ideas and wishes into it. The user experience in SAP Innovation Management is excellent. So I can categorically say that SAP listened,” says Ramin.
Individual functions of SAP Innovation Management at a glance
- A mobile version allows employees to share, evaluate, and discuss ideas anytime, anywhere, on any device.
- The simplicity of an intuitive, easy-to-use “Idea Community” motivates users to submit their ideas.
- Efficient campaign management enables users to configure campaigns flexibly and open them up for input from other teams and departments, thus fostering interdisciplinary team-building within a central idea pool.
- The clearly structured interface of an Innovation office displays information and figures relating to the evaluation and selection process for an idea. Powerful analytics functions enable innovation mangers to pinpoint the most promising ideas.
- The “Expert Finder” function identifies subject-matter experts and links ideas to people in the company with the relevant expertise, helping create communities and expert networks.
“For me, the most crucial aspects of the solution are its compelling user experience, its ease of use, and its comprehensive campaign management. From the company perspective, the availability of a mobile app was also decisive: Users can enter their ideas at the very moment of inspiration, meaning that spontaneous thoughts and suggestions don’t simply go to waste,” says Ramin. “Another aspect that sets this solution apart from others on the market is its extremely high performance powered by SAP HANA.”
The campaign management function in SAP Innovation Management offers versatile options for sharing and collaborating on ideas. Campaigns can be configured individually and, because SAP Innovation Management can be made available to different areas of the company, ideas can be viewed, discussed, evaluated, and augmented by a wide circle of people. A simple process then allows campaign managers to select the most promising ideas and pass them on to product development.
The Expert Finder ensures that new ideas are linked to the relevant subject-matter experts at the company. By entering keywords in a SAP HANA-based search engine, a user can quickly and easily locate the right subject-matter expert for an idea. If the tool is used frequently and by a wide circle of employees, the pool of experts in the system will expand to form a network. “The Expert Finder was only made possible by the power of SAP HANA,” reports Mayerle.
Anchoring a new innovation culture with SAP Innovation Management
SAP Innovation Management is not yet in active use at Beiersdorf, but Ramin already has clear plans about how his company will deploy it in the future.
“Initially, we’ll use the new idea management software for innovations in IT. There are currently three campaigns on the table,” he explains. The first is devoted to optimizing internal and external processes, while the second centers around product innovations in IT, with a focus on mobility and usability. The subject of the third campaign is still under discussion. Ideas will be gathered in an open process that involves the entire workforce.
“We organized a business kick-off event to bring everyone up to speed about the tool and simultaneously launched a comprehensive communication campaign. This involved presenting the innovation process in place at Beiersdorf Shared Services,” says Ramin.
Beiersdorf is currently in the implementation phase of its SAP Innovation Management project, which is due to reach completion in April.
“We’ve used other idea management solutions in the past. But none of them offered the usability or the underlying processes to meet our needs. I expect our new solution, SAP Innovation Management, to deliver a new form of idea and innovation management and – looking ahead – to revolutionize the culture of innovation at our company,” reports Ramin.
Development progressed in stages
Jochen Mayerle’s team developed SAP Innovation Management in stages. The process began with various design thinking workshops in Walldorf involving representatives from both Beiersdorf and other customers. The focus of these was to capture customer ideas and requirements. One of them, the Expert Finder, was proposed by Beiersdorf and is an excellent example of how customers really can influence product development directly.
The next stage was the test phase, for which Beiersdorf provided the technical infrastructure. It was important at this point to establish how well employees at Beiersdorf came to grips with the solution in practice.
“We even installed an eye-tracking system to find out which areas of the user interface were more difficult for people to interact with than others,” says Mayerle. Armed with this information and the results of various test phases and iterations, Beiersdorf was ultimately able to achieve the optimum level of usability. Mayerle and his team then developed various solution prototypes and linked up with the other participating customers to enhance and improve them. Once this stage was complete, SAP Innovation Management was finalized and went on global release at the beginning of August 2014.
SAP Innovation Management runs on SAP HANA and can be licensed for deployment on premise or from the cloud via a subscription model.
Top image: Shutterstock