Hasso Plattner Founders’ Award Finalist Profile: Reimagining Customer Engagement

Put the customer at the center of everything: The New Customer eXperience team took this to heart and flipped the script on how SAP works with customers.

Last year at SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP CEO Bill McDermott shared how the company would deliver on its promise to help organizations across the world be best-run businesses by putting the customer first.

As a team of dreamers, the New Customer eXperience team made the promise a reality. The dream they shared became the Immersive Experience approach, formerly known as SAPCity. This new engagement model was created in less than 90 days, and brings together SAP solutions, consumer experience, and virtual reality in a tangible way to redefine how to put the customer first.

Immersive Experience Reimagines How SAP Engages with Customers

As a first step, the team conducted deep-dive sessions to learn how to lead with an “outside-in” view.

“We worked with theme parks, TV companies, and theater companies to understand what makes a memorable consumer experience,” said Helle Dochedahl, who heads up Presales and the Center of Excellence EMEA South at SAP.

Making an experience begin before a person enters the room seems simple enough, but the team also had to consider keeping that excitement going the entire time customers were in the room.

“You can literally beam customers into the future of their workplace,” Angelique de Vries said. “It could be a future workplace, inside their production hall, or shop. You can take them by the hand and show them how they can get there.”

Immersive Experience is more than a conference room; it’s a 360-degree view of how business can be run, from past to present to future. The best part? One does not have to be in the room to be engaged. “If you want to connect somebody from the other side of the ocean, you can do this too,” said Tom Scaysbrook, senior presales specialist for SAP EMEA North.

Immersive Experience is equipped with the latest technology, such as voice recognition, which results in a high “touch and feel” approach. What’s more, Immersive Experience is scalable, flexible, and can adapt to the needs of the customer — all by reusing content and materials from previous customer meetings.

“That means a sales person in the retail space can build upon what other customers are doing in the same vertical,” explained Mark Raben, CTO of SAP MEE. “They’re able to build ‘a day in a life,’ for example, and really bring it to life using our software solutions.”

Embracing a “Can Do” Attitude

To research, develop, and implement a project like the Immersive Experience approach in quick order required the team embrace change in the broadest sense of the word.

“We felt like a startup within SAP,” said Susanne Vollhardt, head of Solution Management for Machine Learning at SAP. “We brought a team together from different board areas and embraced that ‘can do’ attitude.”

When asked about the value Immersive Experience brings to customers, Nicole Burhenne, vice president of Strategic Programs for SAP Digital Core, said: “Customers see a different SAP. We are able to explain complex topics in a simple and personalized way and guide our customers on their intelligent enterprise journey. And our customers appreciate the clarity.”

The Immersive Experience is delivering collaboration and experimentation to different venues across the globe, from Building 21 at SAP headquarters in Walldorf to the Intelligent Enterprise truck that traveled across Europe, as well as to the SAP SuccessConnect events in Berlin and Las Vegas. This year, the Immersive Experience will be available SAP offices in New York City, Newtown Square, and Palo Alto.


The Hasso Plattner Founders’ Award is the highest employee recognition at SAP, awarded annually by the CEO to an individual or a team.