The Innovation Challenge: How to Make the Extraordinary Happen

One of the most important lessons of the last two years has been the power of innovation when driving genuinely transformative change. With SAP Innovation Awards, we celebrate individuals and organizations that have taken this lesson to heart with a mix of ingenuity, SAP technology, and the support of knowledgeable experts.

Innovations are always top of mind for companies – especially SAP customers. But you won’t find them musing future-minded technology trends such as quantum computing, neural interfaces, or nanotechnology. Instead, they are accomplishing extraordinary feats and delivering meaningful outcomes with existing technology and expertise.

Certainly, every business has a story of exceptional innovation to tell. And I am proud to share those of our customers – some of which were recognized by SAP Innovation Awards in 2021 for making the world better with assistance from SAP Services and Support offerings.

Enhancing Scale and Performance for Heavy Data Workloads

When under pressure to meet regulatory requirements, deliver higher margins, and improve customer experiences, companies must improve how they manage increasing volumes of data. But all too often, the limitation of an on-premise landscape does not allow the flexibility, agility, speed, and cost-effectiveness to meet that challenge.

For one of the SAP Innovation Award winners, the answer was found in a proof of concept created through a joint effort between SAP and Google Cloud. PayPal Holdings (PayPal), which adopted Google Cloud as its core IT partner, chose a combination of Google Cloud and SAP S/4HANA for financial products subledger on a 96 TB scale-out configuration of SAP HANA. The innovation leveraged Google Cloud’s expertise in building scalable, distributed systems and SAP’s relentless focus on delivering mission-critical business process automation.

Bringing the best of SAP and Google Cloud engineering together, PayPal can benefit from groundbreaking capabilities with higher performance, lower costs, and more flexibility. The technology platform company now runs one of the world’s largest scale-out clusters of SAP HANA. And in return, it accelerated query runtime by 40 times through parallelization, reduced its memory footprint by 78% with dynamic data-tiering techniques, and experienced 24 weeks of continuous operations with zero downtime.

Achieving Health Goals Through Process Standardization

During the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses were concerned with maintaining operational continuity and keeping pace with demand while ensuring a safe and healthy environment for their workforce. However, as one of our award finalists discovered, a complex IT infrastructure involving multiple disparate enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems prevented the ability to run as quickly as possible.

The European division of American Air Filter Company addressed this issue by deploying cloud-based solutions to standardize processes and support localization requirements for different countries. With SAP Preferred Success, SAP Value Assurance, and SAP development experts, the division consolidated 13 ERP systems into a single instance of SAP S/4HANA Cloud and gained the agility to achieve meaningful change.

American Air Filter Company harmonized processes and gained a single view of the truth, providing more transparent and streamlined operations across all business areas. Additionally, its simplified IT infrastructure costs less to maintain and enables the business to take advantage of intelligent technologies to innovate new offerings.

Setting New Standards with Embedded Analytics

Every organization reaches a point where homegrown, mainframe-based business information systems must be replaced to enhance decision-making and enable higher standards for data governance, quality, and security. But the first step is not necessarily ripping out the legacy technology and implementing a completely new architecture, which in most cases can become too operationally disruptive and costly.

For 2021 finalist Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), expert guidance from SAP Enterprise Support services was needed to help upskill its IT team and pave the way for cutting-edge embedded analytics. The university worked with SAP Enterprise Support Advisory Council to build a strong foundation in analytics, including through remote, recorded individual and group webinars, to support its digital transformation journey.

Penn State relied on the SAP Enterprise Support value maps for SAP Analytics solutions to help close any digital skills gaps. The organization engaged with experts, posting questions in value map forums and arranging collaborative sessions with peers. Plus, it used the SAP Cloud Appliance Library tool to help demonstrate and trial innovative data analytics and reporting tools, conduct scoping and sandboxing exercises, and create a proof of concept.

Relating training material to workflows and real project scenarios enabled Penn State’s employees to apply knowledge more readily and apply feedback as they adopted SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics. And with access to experts who truly understand its challenges, Penn State’s administration staff now has the necessary skills to adapt and run embedded analytics, which will influence how it runs the university.

Transforming for Agility, Speed, and Success

During any significant organizational change such as a merger, acquisition, or spin-off, most companies find that their legacy landscape is too complex, lacking in technical depth, redundant, or costly to maintain. Another finalist, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), is no stranger to this challenge.

When HPE’s parent company, the Hewlett-Packard Company, spun off in 2015, the business needed to simplify applications and processes enterprise-wide to fulfill the world’s growing need for cloud services and intelligent technology. HPE implemented a wide variety of solutions and services to create a solid foundation for the business and enhance IT with powerful next-generation technologies. The SAP MaxAttention program provided the guidance necessary to help validate, plan, execute, and test the design of its infrastructure.

As a result of its efforts with SAP, HPE reduced recommitments to orders after removing the legacy processes that had resulted in rescheduled jobs. The company improved on-time delivery by focusing on its partners and helping them improve their shipping performance. Today, 99.5% of HPE’s customer orders are delivered on time, up from 90% in the past.

Trailblazing the Future with Innovation

All these stories are exceptional examples of how SAP customers are shaping their innovation effort to trailblaze a future of ongoing productivity and growth. And I am proud that my experts, who support SAP Services and Support offerings, are playing a key role in our customers’ success.

Throughout the year, I hear our customers express their gratitude to my team of experts for helping them realize their potential as intelligent enterprises. Recently, I read a quote from SAP Innovation Award finalist Delivery Hero that I think best sums up the best of what we offer.

“Thanks to guidance from SAP Services and Support and the Intelligent Enterprise Institute, we better understand the dependency of customer experience on our delivery processes,” said Sebastian McClintock, global director of Customer Experience at Delivery Hero. “Leveraging SAP S/4HANA, Experience Management solutions from SAP and Qualtrics, and machine learning models, we now know how to improve data flows and best use our data to meet customers’ needs.”

Do You Have a Story to Tell?

Such change is hard work, and extraordinary results deserve to be told. That’s why we host SAP Innovation Awards every year. It allows us to celebrate organizations that are improving business processes, providing faster and more effective customer service, making a difference for current and future employees, and more.

And we invite all of you – especially if you selected services and support from SAP as your partner or co-partner – to submit a nomination. The call for nominations to SAP Innovation Awards 2022 is open now, but only for a few more months. Share your story with us!


Oliver Huschke is vice president and global head of Marketing and Communications for Services and Support at SAP.