SAP Awarded for Running Germany’s Best Digital Innovation Unit

For the third time, renowned German business outlet CAPITAL and management consulting firm Infront have scouted the best digital innovation units in Germany. Among 50 participating corporate innovation labs, SAP Innovation Center Network was elected winner in the category “Innovation Discovery.”

Even though the German economy is in a strong position to drive global digitalization, several reports show that the country needs to do more to harness the potential of emerging technologies. Leading companies have understood the signals and put their own mechanisms in place to deliver organic innovation. Today, German corporations have established more than 230 digital innovation units, which is reason enough for prestigious business journal CAPITAL and strategy and management consultancy Infront to put them to the acid test and assess their impact.

Around 50 corporate innovation units participated in the comprehensive two-level study along the phases Innovation Discovery, Development, and Scaling. While the last two studies showed that many innovation centers have advanced processes and methodologies in place, they lack evidence for sustainable impact on the mother company. Hence, this year’s survey focused on tangible results – a scope that allowed the SAP Innovation Center Network to shine. The jury elected SAP Innovation Center Network as the winner in the category “Innovation Discovery.”

Torsten Zube, head of SAP Innovation Center Network, could not hide this excitement: “I’m particularly thrilled about this award when I look at the great competition. Many other companies are doing a fantastic job in the innovation space, so it’s a tremendous honor for us to be announced as the No. 1. This gives us tailwind to continue our path.”

Last year, SAP Innovation Center Network took second place in its category.

End-to-End Thinking and Continued Advancement

With its global setup, dedicated engineering capacities, and end-to-end responsibility for innovation, SAP Innovation Center Network is pioneering transformative technologies for SAP. In previous years, the team has not only spearheaded the company’s efforts around machine learning and blockchain, but has impacted SAP’s strategic focus on the Intelligent Enterprise. Beyond that, the organization previously led by Juergen Mueller, now chief technology officer and member of the Executive Board of SAP SE,  generated recognizable revenue through products such as the SAP Product Lifecycle Costing solution and complemented SAP Cloud Platform with services that enable easy and business-oriented use of emerging technologies.

Thomas Sindemann, study leader and partner at Infront Consulting & Management, particularly acknowledged the holistic thinking at SAP Innovation Center Network: “It was impressive to see how the SAP Innovation Center Network has constantly advanced its approach in service of the mother company. By balancing independent technology exploration and concrete validation of real-world use cases in partnership with the core team, SAP Innovation Center Network has been able to drive meaningful change inside SAP.”

“Innovating for a global software leader is a great privilege and a challenge at the same time,” Zube added. “Continuously evolving our strategy and organizational setup requires us to embrace change. I’m grateful for my team’s dedication and glad this hard work and commitment pays off.”

Max Wessel, chief innovation officer at SAP, set the context: “SAP has more than 430,000 customers that look at us to build systems that are their driver for digital innovation. It is our obligation to deliver products, services, and business models that matter beyond tomorrow. SAP Innovation Center Network is one of our most impactful engines to make that happen, so this award is both an important recognition of our work and an incentive to expand our efforts on transformative innovation.”

German companies have established around 230 digital innovation units, 60 of them are based out of Berlin. SAP Innovation Center Network bets on a decentralized approach and operates from Potsdam, Palo Alto, Nanjing, Newport Beach, and Walldorf.

Fifty-eight percent of the digital innovation units build internal startups, while only four percent of them focus on employee mentoring and coaching. With the scouting and acceleration program in SAP.iO, SAP engages around 20,000 employees every year to support internal entrepreneurs.

The average digital innovation unit is three years old; SAP Innovation Center was established in 2011.