Three Real-Life Design Thinking Examples from the Nordics

There’s been a lot of talk about design thinking and SAP Leonardo over the last year. Here are some nice real-world examples of customers that used these techniques to innovate in their industry, with an unexpected payoff — these solutions not only improved the business, they also increased trust with IT, thanks to close-knit teams that combined technical experts and front-line workers.

At the end of last year, I had the honor of presenting at the launch of SAP’s Experience Center Copenhagen, a new “digital playground for digital minds.” It’s a fully interactive, physical, digital, and emotional experience that brings to life examples of how the latest technologies can transform your business.

SAP Experience Center – Copenhagen

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The Experience Center is open to all companies across the Nordic region and beyond and includes a dedicated space for design thinking workshops as part of SAP Leonardo projects.

As SAP Nordic CTO Jesper Schleimann explained, the goal is to provide businesses and organizations with a new perspective on digitalization: “We want to specifically provide them with methods, tools, and prototypes to make their digital journey real.”

The launch event included presentations of innovative projects from companies across the region including Vestas, SKF, and Statoil. The common theme was truly agile innovation using the latest technologies and design thinking.

For example, Vestas is a world leader in wind turbine technology. Wind turbine installation is complicated and requires intense planning – which often happens in remote areas with harsh weather conditions. To enable on-site engineers to focus on the job while centrally capturing project progress and alterations, Vestas Wind Systems worked with SAP to create a new OnePlan application, using SAP Cloud Platform.

Design thinking methodology was a new way of working for Vestas, but Peter Michael Nielsen, SAP technology director for Vestas, says that now that they’ve tried it, they have realized it’s a great enabler for their future development. His strong recommendation is that all companies should embraces these changes and not be afraid to embark on a co-development and design thinking journey.

Vestas on Design Thinking: Everybody should try it out!

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SKF is an industrial engineering powerhouse headquartered in Gothenberg, Sweden. The company chose SAP Leonardo and design thinking to provide a systematic approach to digital innovation.

I highly recommend the video below as a great example of what these techniques can achieve. What made the project interesting was the final result; not just a new application to help the workers on the factory floor, but a renewed sense of common purpose around innovation: “SKF is as much about people and interconnectivity as it is about bearings, and the people are the foundation.”

Innovation’s Secret Weapon: Breakthrough Technology + People

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The Norwegian giant Statoil talked about an application designed to help a hypothetical “Tom the Vessel Planner” reduce cost and CO2 emissions by optimizing sailing plans, improving cargo information quality, and reduce turnaround time.

Once again, SAP Leonardo and design thinking proved an effective approach for quickly understanding complex business requirements and designing simple future solutions. The end-user involvement and quick prototyping helped effectively test concepts and secure business buy-in.

Overall, I can’t recommend participating in these centers highly enough. It’s a great opportunity to get away from the urgent pressures of day-to-day business, take a step back, and really think about what innovation means to your organization.

Timo Elliott: Nordic companies need to make bigger and bolder changes.

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Nordic companies need to aim for the digital stars! Let the technology, tools, and methods in the Experience Center be your telescope. Book your meeting on

This story originally appeared on the SAP Community.