A Chinese delegation recently visited the SAP AppHaus Heidelberg to learn more about design and innovation.

Humans drive innovation supported by the latest technology. Being aware of the latest technology trends is key — but not the only ingredient — to driving innovation. Sustainable business success also relies on a proper implementation of innovation in practice. This makes it necessary to deal with the innovation culture of a company as well as design as a driver for human-centered digital transformation.

Design-Led Innovation at SAP AppHaus Heidelberg

In April, the SAP Design team in Heidelberg welcomed very special guests in the SAP AppHaus. After visiting the Hannover Messe to get insights in most recent technological trends, a delegation consisting of more than 30 key decision makers from prestigious Chinese SAP customers in the manufacturing industry visited SAP AppHaus to learn more about design and innovation complemented by technology.

Participants came from influential and powerful Chinese companies such as BOE Technology Group, Beiqi Foton Motor and Han’s Laser Technology.


The visit to SAP AppHaus kicked-off with a welcome speech from Michael Byczkowski, vice president and head of Customer Design Engagement at SAP Design. He introduced the team’s mission and the value of design and user experience as well as the user-centric approach to drive design-led innovation.

After pointing out the importance of always putting the user in the center and understanding the real problems of the end-users, Byczkowski presented selected SAP Design customer success stories — like the cervical cancer project with the Heidelberg University Hospital — to show that the human factor is the key driver for innovation.

Inspired by the newly gained insights, how the team works, and the required mindset and team culture, the delegates were very enthusiastic about getting to know SAP AppHaus as a creative space to drive innovation, collaboration, and foster creativity. They tried out workshop materials, took pictures of the meeting rooms, and asked questions concerning the workshop procedures.  The delegates didn’t miss the opportunity to gather impressions in order to return to China with new perspectives to help encourage their companies to experiment with newest technologies as well as approaches and to change the way they work.


Next, SAP product experts from Walldorf provided the delegates with deeper insights and information on topics related to design and innovation.

Bernhard Mayer, SAP solution manager and field alliance manager for China, explained how SAP software helps to make business with the previously shown approaches and systems. He further demonstrated why companies need to identify optimization possibilities within the production process and how to properly react to market challenges and trends.

Stephan Leuze, vice president for SAP S/4HANA Global Business, provided the participants with a detailed outlook on SAP S/4HANA and gave them a feeling for the new SAP Fiori design by showing a sales order fulfillment process step by step.

Jan Schneider, head of Strategy for Sports & Entertainment at SAP, showed how SAP and sports are a great match, explaining how the company established a dedicated industry unit for sports covering the three areas fan, team, and operations. The wide range of possibilities for analyzing a football team performance and producing statistics on this visibly impressed the audience that sparked a discussion on how to transfer these insights to their own businesses.

Back at SAP Headquarters, Walldorf

Lunch at SAP headquarters in Walldorf offered opportunities to network and exchange knowledge and opinions on certain subjects. In the afternoon, Jürgen Hagedorn, solution manager for SAP HANA Analytics, provided the delegates with a more comprehensive and detailed picture of how SAP can further help manage business. He gave deep insights into SAP Digital Boardroom based on SAP BusinessObjects Cloud and demonstrated how to get an overview over all company numbers from different perspectives like financial performance, customer count, workforce, and supplier spends.

The visit to SAP AppHaus in Heidelberg followed by SAP headquarters in Walldorf was a day full of information, new impressions, and insights. A guided walk through the SAP Inspiration Pavilion marked the closing of the official part of the event while allowing the delegates to experience interactively how to deal with Big Data most effectively using SAP HANA without losing the big picture.


The Chinese delegation’s journey would continue to Stuttgart, Zürich, and Lugarno to meet SAP reference customers.

In reviewing the insights of the day, the delegates were very positive about the visit, expressing wishes to have design thinking workshops in China. Thus the SAP Design team looks forward to facilitating that by doing what they do best: humanizing business software through design.

This story originally appeared on the SAP User Experience Community site.