Co-/Design: Revitalizing Innovation from the Perspective of Industry Best Practices

One of the biggest dilemmas homeowners face is picking out kitchen appliances. Very rarely does one brand have the best features and functions across all product lines – such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers, stovetop ranges, and ovens. Instead, a mix of appliances is purchased and installed, often requiring different adapters or placement reconfigurations to ensure everything fits and works well together in a confined space.

Such an arrangement may work well in a traditional environment. However, once homeowners try to embrace smart home trends enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors, and automated controls, the kitchen setup may restrict them from benefiting from the promises of living in a smart home. New appliances may need to be purchased or existing ones may need to be upgraded with sensors or other add-on technologies. In some cases, it will even be required to replace full appliances by a “one-vendor” or “back-to-standard” strategy to implement the new IoT capabilities.

Like our homes, there are a lot of different solutions to be considered when modernizing an IT landscape. And as a result, it’s difficult to know how much a new implementation or upgrade initiative should cost, which additional technologies are required, and what level of support should be requested from technology partners.

Many of our customers know that the secret to turning this overwhelming experience into one that is transparent enough to focus on innovation, benefits, and outcomes is to use the Co-/Design focus topic from the New SAP MaxAttention engagement model. To uncover how our customers are using these services to prepare and win throughout their individual innovation journey, I spoke with Stephan Klein, senior vice president of Energy and Natural Resources Industries and head of SAP Model Company, and Andreas Elting, service offering manager of Energy and Natural Resources Industries and portfolio manager of SAP Model Company. Both manage the development and improvement of Co-/Design.

Q: What are the typical drivers that compel customers to use Co-/Design and how is it applied?

Klein: Over the years, many companies have customized their IT landscapes a lot to make them fit for specific purposes. We often see isolated and homegrown solutions emerge from “add-ons” to former standardized landscapes. But in today’s fast-changing markets, the speed of bringing new innovations into these heterogeneous landscapes needs to increase – which can be unmanageable considering the impacts and side-effects of a new function or upgrade. There is a clear need for a change.

In addition, customer landscape evaluation tools, such as the SAP Innovation and Optimization Pathfinder service, show areas where a customer is behind the market average. For example, there may be an issue where there are too many open orders. By using Co-/Design, we help the customer identify those areas and suggest ways to improve the situation.

Don’t get me wrong: Co-/Design is not at all just paperwork and PowerPoint presentations. We use tools and standardized services, including SAP Transformation Navigator and SAP Model Company, to help speed up our customers’ transformations to intelligent enterprises. With SAP Model Company services, for example, we demonstrate how end-to-end processes can be implemented. This approach enables the customer to focus on a fit-to-standard approach by creating a hands-on experience of the optimal use and best practice-value of SAP products and business innovations.

Elting: Our Co-/Design focus topic first identifies functional pain points. We address those with content from SAP Model Company and work with the customer to come up with a prioritized and value-driven road map.

Our approach to SAP Model Company shows the customer how certain processes can be implemented by using SAP standards. Because the services are out-of-the-box, SAP Model Company is delivered as prepackaged running systems. Together with partners or as a stand-alone, SAP helps support a structured governance process by setting up a prioritized road map, using an overall design that follows SAP Best Practices, and continuously monitoring progress towards identified values.

Intelligent technologies, like predictive analytics, machine learning, and blockchain, are built into our tools and accelerators and can be discussed starting on day one of the engagement. We can even enter a co-innovation scenario with the customer by bringing in solutions from the SAP Innovative Business Solutions organization. This approach handles both sides of the innovation equation to deliver our customers’ unique digital vision and extend it into other areas of their business.

Q: Can you explain how Co-/Design enables our customers to realize and maximize return on investment (ROI) across the entire innovation life cycle?

Elting: Co-/Design helps minimize the time to value of transformation initiatives through strategic innovation road mapping, value identification, and implementation tactics – all of which are based on an industry-specific perspective. These capabilities are accomplished through the delivery of proven industry best practices, accelerators, model-company reference content, and governance and control processes.

To help ensure Co-/Design is scaled to address each customer’s needs, we offer four levels of support:

  • Model-company assessment: This baseline offering helps identify the scope of the engagement. In our portfolio of SAP Model Company services, we have over 30 model companies. Typically, more than one is needed to address the customer’s challenges.
  • Value and design assessment: Designed to help the transformation to an intelligent enterprise, this service gives our customers a clear understanding of ROI metrics, value drivers, and the main areas of value Plus, they can define an outcome-focused value map and prioritized road map based on industry best practices.
  • Design advisory: Our customers and potential partners can use this service to help define a joint design based on industry-specific best practices and develop an actionable plan for value creation supported by an established value governance plan. The overall goal is to get the right overall design and monitor progress among the several work streams of a project.
  • Edge-design support: The next option is to secure the early adoption of the most recent technology to gain a competitive advantage. Improved steering and governance capabilities in a proven framework help reduce the time and cost needed to realize optimal ROI from the innovation.

Q: How does Co-/Design simplify innovation, which is traditionally complex, resource-intensive, and potentially risky?

Klein: Across all levels of Co-/Design, the goal is to prepare our customers for innovation practices based on a standard foundation. Our offerings demonstrate how innovation can be brought in through SAP standard solutions and help our customers avoid the innovation roadblocks I mentioned earlier. But more importantly, our customers can rely on SAP capabilities end to end.

With Co-/Design, innovation becomes more than just creating a fantastic road map and something new. It also guides the entire business on how to identify the value of transformation and prioritize efforts according to business outcomes as well as regulatory, industry standards and corporate ethics. Then once an initiative is chosen, the company can incorporate the innovation into the business model and stand out from the rest of its competition.

Companies that choose Co-/Design aspire to get the core solution design right according to industry best and next practices based on SAP Model Company. If they decide to co-innovate for strategic business needs, the engagement can be extended with a structured edge-design support, which connects the dots between SAP development and the co-innovation stream, provides enhanced access to industry, functional, and technical subject-matter expertise, and extends governance.


Over the next few weeks, we’ll offer a real-world view of these focus topics that can help your business acquire the foundation and capabilities of an intelligent enterprise. Bookmark the series landing page and check it each week. In the meantime, read our overview of the New SAP MaxAttention, “Customer Success for the Intelligent Enterprise,” to discover the opportunities ahead for your business. Feel free to reach out to us for more information at maxattention@sap.com.


Christian Leja is director of SAP MaxAttention Solution Marketing. Follow him on LinkedIn.
Stephan Klein is senior vice president of Energy and Natural Resources Industries and head of SAP Model Company. Follow him on LinkedIn.

Andreas Elting is service offering manager of Energy and Natural Resources Industries and portfolio manager of SAP Model Company. Follow him on LinkedIn.