SAP Employees Learn More Because It’s Fun

In 2021, SAP teams have been awarded coveted Brandon Hall Group Excellence Awards.

Continuous employee development is an important cornerstone of everyone’s business. Especially right now, at the age of the digital transformation where consumer demand for digital innovation is driving faster development and delivery, the impact and pressure on employees to stay on top of their skills is undeniable.

Developing skill management tools is only one aspect. The larger discussion is around how do you motivate employees, driven by tight delivery schedules, to take time to learn a new skill, a new tool, a new technology?

This year, SAP has received some significant awards, recognizing a new and innovative approach that is taking a different stance on employee skill development.

SAP has an overwhelming pool of tools and technologies; it is easy for employees to drown in the offerings. Why? Because it can be unclear when to use what. If it requires assistance, people may be inclined to postpone it, or to never start it. Taking formalized learning can be boring and time consuming, and that is a significant risk factor to lifelong learning.

Continuous employee skill development is crucial to our business success. Every employee counts, and it is our responsibility to ensure they have access to learning, time to focus, and enjoy their career growth. As such, SAP’s IT organization took a different approach. We developed an internal solution, based on SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP), that offers a gamified engagement, peer learning, and collaboration.

This innovative solution — known as project “Octopus” — combines game-like elements of gamification with a healthy spirit of competition. It delivers actionable micro-learning content with community engagement and interaction in a fun, refreshing, and simple way. Learning or searching for answers to specific topics no longer needs to be boring or take too much time. Now, SAP employees are presented with a learning method that encourages them to stay curious and to step outside their comfort zone while having fun at the same time.

We initially created this platform for an internal audience to solve the concerns of too many tools, instead fostering a community of employees helping each other to understand the various tools available. The format and power of this approach and the community concept were quickly recognized and adopted throughout SAP.

With the rapid acceleration of technology, innovation, and digital transformation around the world, the need for interactive and fun learning methodologies has increased to ensure employees grow with the demands of today’s business. There is also an increasing interest from outside of SAP, and I am thrilled that our internal gamified peer-to-peer learning and collaboration platform will be beta tested within non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academic institutions as well.

This platform enables SAP to move closer to being the most inclusive software company by influencing an internal initiative called the Inclusive Leadership Challenge in meaningful ways. Effective leaders have a higher, more positive impact on the decisions, actions, and overall attitude of employees. By combining the best elements of gamification, peer learning, coaching, and collaboration, managers and their employees create lasting behavior change through a fun, engaging, and easy-to-consume program.

And I am beyond excited that the involved SAP teams have been awarded three coveted Brandon Hall Group Excellence Awards in 2021. We are extremely proud of our teams, to have been recognized and honored with the Gold Award for our internal gamified peer-to-peer learning and collaboration platform in the category “Learning & Development: Best Advance in Learning Technology Implementation.”

I also congratulate our Diversity and Inclusion teams for winning gold and silver awards for the Inclusive Leadership Challenge, a community built on this new and innovative platform. Each of these awards represent SAP’s mission of innovating new ways of learning and leadership.

Continuous employee learning and skill management is critical to an organization’s business success. With today’s fast paced development of technology and inspiring innovation, we want to ensure that our employees adapt and excel. And that is a commitment with a strong strategic core. Learning can and should be fun. We want our employees to dedicate time to expand their skills not because the development plans say so, but because it is cool to do it, all in addition to connecting with others and do it as a community.

It is a future investment in our business and more importantly our employees.


Florian Roth is CIO of SAP SE.