SAP pushes for innovation with collaborative thought leadership and new systems of engagement.

Personalized, modular, embedded: These are the characteristics of the context-aware future of enterprise IT. This year at SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP demonstrates how the company’s innovation unit translates this vision into new techniques, technologies, and thought leadership.

SAP can look back on a strong history of innovation. In 1972, our founders pioneered the standard software for financial systems to run our customers’ business processes in real time. Since then, SAP has continuously reinvented itself: moving to a client-server architecture, revolutionizing data management with SAP HANA, and now embarking on a tremendous journey to infuse intelligence into every business process.

With more than 437,000 customers in more than 180 countries trusting our systems as their foundation for innovation, it is our duty to constantly invest to renew and reinvent our products. As SAP chief innovation officer, it is my responsibility to make sure that we provide nuanced foresight, engage our ecosystem around a shared vision to innovate together, and ultimately build the technologies and products that matter beyond tomorrow. At SAPPHIRE NOW, I am proud to share that we’re making great progress in each of these areas.

Introducing Horizons by SAP

Every day at SAP, we have teams exploring the application of new technologies within our industry. Today, we are excited to take the knowledge from these efforts and launch our new magazine, Horizons by SAP, an innovation journal of the truest variety. It is a deep exploration of topics relevant to the future of IT with contributions from thought leaders across our industry.

Our first issue is a forward-looking yet very tangible and business-oriented 360-degree view on modular IT. Read how enterprises benefit from software that adapts to individual user needs. Our authors explore how emerging technologies like blockchain, 5G, or virtual reality help create unique user experiences and enable maximum flexibility. Additionally, get insights into how companies set themselves up for success and interact with their customers, partners, and competitors in an era of choice.

Now Available: Horizons by SAP

Horizons by SAP is a future-focused IT journal. Thought leaders from the global tech ecosystem share their thinking about how new technologies and major business trends will impact our customers’ landscapes in the fast-arriving future. The first issue, available at www.sap.com/horizons, will focus on the implications and opportunities of modular IT.

At the core of this issue of Horizons is a perspective that the ever-increasing scale of digitization, the ubiquity of smart, connected devices, and the proliferation of business models will require systems to be perfectly adaptable to the user’s and an organization’s needs. The software we deserve is personalized for every situation, works seamlessly across landscapes, and is delivered how we want it.  To get there, the only path is by decomposing monolithic systems and methods for managing IT.

What is most striking about the journal is the variety of contributors who agree on SAP’s vision for the future of IT. Senior leaders from Accenture, Verizon, Upskill, Box, Dell, Microsoft, Kuka, and Sapphire Ventures all volunteered contributions in line with this perspective on the future. Context-aware systems are not only on their way, but we all agree that there is still a great deal to do in reinventing our IT landscapes to get there.

At SAP, this clarity of vision allows us to focus our investment in new technologies and products. We know we must work to deliver that perfect and personalized experience to each of our users. The technologies we pioneer must facilitate modular architectures and harmonized data management and allow components to interoperate without friction. The services we provide must be context-aware and intelligently trigger actions when needed.

Last month, SAP CEO Bill McDermott visited the latest SAP Innovation Center Network location in Newport Beach (Pictured from left: Daniel Zimmer, Wessel, McDermott, Jaime Scofield)

Investing to Deliver this Future

SAP has multiple engines to deliver the changes our customers require. Through the SAP Innovation Center Network, we pioneer the transformational technologies that will change how we serve our customers. Through SAP.iO Venture Studio, we incubate complementary products in new markets required to transform our end-user experience. Both of these engines are lined up behind the three themes that we believe a context-aware future demands. Let me offer some examples.


At SAPPHIRE NOW, Ruum by SAP announced another integration, this time with SAP Marketing Cloud. An intuitive and adaptable collaboration suite, Ruum offers a diverse set of modules and functionalities to set up exactly the framework you need to kick-off and manage any project in a simple and outcome-oriented fashion. You can use Ruum directly on top of your business processes and in a seamless interplay with the SAP portfolio as well as external tools such as Microsoft Teams and Box.


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Prost to Productivity: Watch to learn why not only blue-chip corporations, but also midsize enterprises use Ruum by SAP to improve collaboration.


We have just introduced a new paradigm to better harness the benefits of blockchain technology: federated data management. For almost two years, we’ve been working with customers across the globe in the blockchain space. One learning: Many of our customers really wanted only trust from the blockchain and nothing else. We asked ourselves, “How would we modularize this trust and layer it onto any system?” Luckily, we have great experts in the SAP Innovation Center Network who determined how to componentize cross-company data management. As an example, this could allow companies to store and process the data with the databases and systems of their choice and still use a public blockchain to notarize it and keep different systems in sync. This will enable unprecedented flexibility to manage business processes across companies and yet provide greater trust.

Context-Aware and Embedded

Just before SAPPHIRE NOW, we proudly opened the latest SAP Innovation Center Network location in Newport Beach, California. Tapping into the great talents in the region, we’re excited to announce our focus on ambient artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. With tens of millions of Echo and Google Home devices deployed and hundreds of millions of Bluetooth headsets, the era of ambient auditory data has arrived. In an intelligent enterprise, these technologies will make all of our lives easier. Voice-based assistants could help sales teams to organize customer workshops while productivity systems will be able to capture agenda items, date, time, location, and participants from the conversation in the meeting rooms.

SAP is constantly investing to push its boundaries. We understand that the world of enterprise is anything but static. What is crucial to me is that we not do this in an ivory tower. We will continue to listen to our customers, immerse ourselves even deeper in the academic ecosystem, and continually engage our peers around a shared vision for enterprise IT. This has been an essential part of our legacy. And it will be the key requirement to continue our unparalleled innovation story.

Max Wessel is chief innovation officer at SAP.