2021 Hasso Plattner Founders’ Award Finalists: Operational Excellence

Nine teams across three categories are vying for this year’s Hasso Plattner Founders’ Award. Each category reflects a different type of breakthrough thinking, considering the various ways in which innovation drives SAP’s success.

Here, meet the finalists in the Operational Excellence category.


The Hasso Plattner Founders’ Award is the highest
employee recognition at SAP, awarded annually by the CEO
to an individual or a team.


Finalist: Competitive Advantage for Sales

An integrated knowledge of customers, markets, and competition can be the decisive factor for a sales team in closing a deal. The challenge is that although sales-relevant data is available, it is often spread across different tools and platforms. Sales employees may lack the time and expertise needed to analyze and interpret the data. This represents a missed opportunity for sales and a gap that needed to be closed.

The three-member Data-Driven Selling team — Pilar Navarro, Rajesh Parthasarathy, and Benjamin Baumann — accepted this challenge. The team is passionate about fundamentally improving sales decisions by using data-driven insights aligned with the sales journey and personalized to every phase of the sales cycle.

Data Driven Selling

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Data Driven Selling

Video produced by Rana Hamzakadi and David Aguirre

Starting in 2019, the team members delivered various ad-hoc and standard reports for demand generation and sales teams with the aim of identifying new sales opportunities. In the following year, the report was enhanced with additional data points, such as pipeline, profiling, adoption, market forecast, and competition, and was mapped to the different phases of the sales cycle, from planning to execution.

In 2021, the team formally translated all the different needs from the field into the Data-Driven Selling dashboard for account, territory, and executive views.

The Right Data at the Right Time

“Our dashboard integrates sales data from more than 10 different sources into one holistic view that enables teams to analyze and interpret the data,” says Navarro. “Sales teams can make faster, better-informed decisions as to where they should concentrate their efforts.”

As a result, the solution can help both sales planning and execution teams generate and accelerate new deals, giving them a significant competitive advantage. Better informed employees are a threefold win: for the sales teams, for customers, and for SAP.

“Data-Driven Selling has already generated tremendous interest and has been well accepted in our EMEA South region and in the various market units,” Navarro shares. “The concept is so powerful that it could be used outside of SAP, too, and even offered as a solution.”


Finalist Fast Facts

  • Submission Title: Data-Driven Selling
  • Team: Pilar Navarro, Rajesh Parthasarathy, Benjamin Baumann
  • Number of employees: Three, with many internal contributors and supporters
  • Achievement: Provide the sales team with the right data at the right time to make the right decisions on where to focus their efforts. Some of the key proven impacts realized are incremental pipeline, progress in existing opportunities and pipeline conversion to revenue.
  • Impact: SAP sales teams can use the Data-Driven Selling dashboard to improve demand management, opportunity acceleration, and deal closure.

Finalist: The Future of Engineering

Integration is at the center of SAP’s business strategy. More than 15,000 customers use SAP Integration Suite to execute business-critical processes in 30 data centers, supporting 10 billion transactions monthly – and the numbers keep rising.

While customers expect solutions to run trouble-free, SAP teams are continuously challenged by the steadily growing number of customers and systems. More than 50,000 monthly software deployments on these systems across different environments, such as those of the leading infrastructure providers, add many additional sources of error to the equation. Many of the incidents are caused by factors that developers cannot anticipate. In the worst case, this leads to interruptions for customers and ties up developer time to resolve the issues.

Data Driven Engineering

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Data Driven Engineering

Video produced by Rana Hamzakadi and David Aguirre

That is why the Data-Driven Engineering team, led by Bhagyesh Hede, believed that developer teams needed an intelligent, data-driven methodology to achieve uninterrupted, functional, and focused software deployment at a high level of quality. Their goal was to proactively predict and prevent outages for customers. It quickly became clear that they were not only building a bridge between development and operations, but also had to establish permanent, close cooperation between these two areas – which also benefits customers. With this inspiration, the 10-person team worked on their project tirelessly until they were able to present the initial results of their work.

Dashboards Support Developers

Data-Driven Engineering methodology outlines capturing key metrics in multiple dashboards tailored to individual scrum teams. These dashboards provide information about the most important KPIs for the functions, as well as insights into how the software is working in the actual productive environment. The metrics give teams an overview of the most significant configuration changes and their impacts, and pre-defined thresholds trigger alerts when passed. The dashboards also provide insights for the planning of peak loads and help the development and operation teams develop robust, scalable software for diverse environments.

“Data-Driven Engineering enables us to meet our customers’ expectations by shortening recovery times, reducing the number of incidents, and deploying new features faster,” explains Hede. “Since the development teams have better insights into both development and productive environments, we can identify error patterns at an early stage that could have a major impact if not corrected. We’ve been able to avoid many customer incidents as a result. The solution will help us achieve our cloud availability service level agreements of close to 100%.”


Finalist Fast Facts

  • Submission Title: Data-Driven Engineering
  • Team: Bhagyesh Hede, Ashwinkumar Vijayakumar, Himanshu Mahajan, Tarun Ramakrishna Elankath, Karthikeyan R, Mrutyunjay Padmasali Sidda, Nitin Verma, Sapreen Ahuja, Prajwal Gonsalves, Sandhya Nambrath
  • Number of employees: 10
  • Achievement: Conceptualized and contextualized the Data-Driven Engineering methodology in the organization using state-of-the-art monitoring and Big Data technology within the Cloud Integration unit. The methodology centers on customer satisfaction and helps make SAP engineers’ work more efficient.
  • Impact: Data-Driven Engineering supports fulfilling the business expectations of customers, such as improved time to recovery, lower incidents, and delivering new features at speed. As the development teams have greater insights into production, early visibility of the failure patterns is available, which could cascade to greater impact.

Finalist: Healthy Accounts = Satisfied Customers

Sales employees know it is better – and easier – to keep customers than to attract new ones. But the grand prize is when current customers regularly renew their contracts and buy additional solutions. Customer Health Score specifies a customer’s renewal risk and helps account teams create better customer relationships.

Cloud Health Score

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Cloud Health Score

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Under Angela Reichert, the 10-person team began work in late 2019 to predict the renewal risk in cloud accounts and use these findings to alert account teams at an early stage. The goal is to improve the health score and thus minimize the renewal risk. The team is comprised primarily of colleagues from North America and Germany who otherwise work on different teams. “We want to achieve 10% more customers with healthy and neutral cloud health scores,” says Reichert.

Machine Learning for Real-Time Insights

The team relied on machine learning to create a powerful solution and is convinced that the data, combined with real-time insights into accounts, is extremely powerful when predicting renewal risk. Sixty-five percent of SAP cloud customers are digital customers that are not assigned a customer team. In some cases, the automated check of the customer status is the only information available.

The Customer Health Score model is already forecasting the renewal risk for 94% of nearly 68,000 cloud customers. The score is used both regionally and globally and already supports almost all cloud solutions from SAP. The prediction quality is over 80% and the team is confident they can increase it with the help of additional data, such as external financial metrics.

When asked about the project’s impact on the company, Reichert explains, “In addition to the improved health index and higher visibility of critical accounts, our approach delivers one thing above all else: a positive customer experience and thus a better customer relationship.”


Finalist Fast Facts

  • Submission Title: Intelligent Visibility into Cloud Customer Health with Predictive Score
  • Team: Cloud Health Score core project team, including Global Post Sales Process Office, Customer Engagement & Experience, and Intelligent Data and Analytics, Franchise for Customer Success
  • Number of employees: 10
  • Achievement: Machine prediction of customer health, identifying risk to renewal, using over 90 data points, validated at 80% accuracy
  • Impact: Ninety-four percent cloud annual contract value with intelligent predictive score (€7.1 billion revenue), global coverage, across 11 cloud lines of business, 65,000 cloud accounts and growing