SAP has chosen two new employee-created businesses to join the SAP.iO Venture Studio. GreenToken and OwnID won funding with the goal of scaling to impact SAP and its customers.
In-house innovation has been one of SAP’s recipes for success since its founding days nearly half a century ago. Driving transformative innovation inside the company demands going beyond innovating upon existing products by actively scouting for new ideas. Once identified, these innovative ideas can build and grow upon SAP’s unique strength and assets such as the company’s technologies, data and customer relationships.
“It’s our job to keep our eyes on the future,” Max Wessel, chief innovation officer of SAP, said. “But it’s more than just having the ideas. We have to put an operating model in place to facilitate innovation for our customers.”
Venturing inside of SAP — also known as intrapreneurship — is one of the ways SAP accomplishes the task by reimagining how products and services can be delivered from the ground up.
From Idea to Product Incubation
The internal accelerator program at SAP has been identifying high-potential, entrepreneurial employees inside the company since 2015. With the help of a structured program, the employees join together in teams that create an idea for a new venture. The selected SAP teams then receive mentorship to validate critical assumptions and solve real business problems.
In 2019, 11 teams were selected to pitch for investment. Two have secured funding and are joining SAP.iO Venture Studio, the in-house product incubator. Over the next 18 to 24 months, these two venture teams will have the opportunity to continue to develop their ideas and test and iterate among other teams in the product incubator environment.
GreenToken: Traceable Raw Material Supply Chains for Informed Purchasing Decisions
What is inspiring about the program is that ideas are sourced from all areas of SAP’s business. The GreenToken by SAP solution was sourced from the SAP One Billion Lives initiative, the company’s flagship social intrapreneurship program that aims to improve 1 billion lives through a portfolio of sustainable, shared-value impact ventures.
As consumers become more conscious of the origin of the products they buy, they are demanding sustainable and ethically sourced material. GreenToken enhances the traceability of product raw materials through a cloud platform supported by blockchain technology.
The venture’s approach is unique in the market and it will be able to offer companies a new level of transparency for their sourced raw materials, as opposed to the current practice of only tracking the final packaged good. Founders James Veale and Nitin Jain have proved the viability and are continually working to build on the potential impact of their venture.
Digital Identities: Usernames and Passwords Become Obsolete with OwnID
OwnID by SAP was built to safeguard personal data on various online platforms. The web application enables users to create a single digital identity that will be used to log in to websites and apps.
Today’s online logins include cumbersome account creations and password hassles, which too easily can lead to compromised privacy. OwnID aims to transform identity management by giving users full ownership of their personal data and protecting their digital identities from being dispersed across multiple platforms. The venture plans to create decentralized, portable identities that users can take with them wherever they go through their phone without installing an app.
A user will click on a link on their phone to register to a website without choosing a password, choose the profile information that they want to share about themselves, and will then be able to use just their phone to login from anywhere.
Not only that, but in business-to-business (B2B) scenarios, the same portable identity technology could be used by employees to log in and share information securely. Providing data autonomy for end users could also resolve issues for companies managing their own customer data and compliance.
Funding and Founding Inside SAP
Dor Shany and Rooly Eliezerov are the founding team behind OwnID, and bring deep expertise from identity management platform Gigya, which SAP acquired in 2017.
“Creating a new business within an organization offers us to work with the existing company’s assets and infrastructure, which is fundamentally different from a traditional startup,” Eliezerov, co-founder of Gigya and OwnID, explained. “You aren’t starting on a blank canvas.”
About New Ventures and Technologies
To future-proof SAP and customer businesses, the New Ventures and Technologies organization drives transformative innovation through technology innovation and product incubation. It identifies commercial opportunities in the SAP ecosystem, explores and pioneers the business impact of emerging technologies, and makes them enterprise ready. For more information, visit the Innovation at SAP area of sap.com.
Previous experience in starting a business isn’t a requirement within SAP.iO Venture Studio.
“With our approach to product incubation, we empower employees to own their new product,” Graham Ratcliffe, general manager of SAP.iO Venture Studio, said. “We’re most interested in the big bets and we look for founding teams who want to create new markets.”