Designing the Future of Business for Human Outcomes

Design and user experience (UX) is driving the user-centered digital transformation at SAP, helping us forge the next 50 years of innovation and success for the world’s top businesses.

Companies across industries are­ increasingly turning to design to improve efficiency, customer satisfaction, and usability of their products and services. But what is driving this shift toward design-led innovation? And what do we really mean when we say “design”?

Design is an expression of intent to solve a problem and generate a positive outcome. It is part of the DNA of the systems, processes, and products that drive innovation and experiences. It’s not just about what happens on screens, or just how something looks or functions, but rather the forces, framework, disciplines, and execution that drive experience excellence at each touch point of the customer and user journey.

Design maturity is exemplified by an organization’s willingness to adopt design and user outcomes as a mindset. At SAP, we are evolving to ensure design influences how we operate, build, and go to market. As we scale our ambitious transformation journey, design gives us a way to reframe and rethink the problems we face amid significant global socioeconomic and environmental paradigm shifts, and to shape SAP’s path forward.

I am excited to share the journey we’re on to make design an integral part of SAP’s transformation, contributing to the success of businesses around the world.

Creating Meaningful Experiences for Users

Our goal is to build inclusive products that people love and enjoy using across multiple channels, web and mobile, so that they can get their job done and achieve their business outcomes wherever and whenever. And given that SAP customers generate 87% of total global commerce, we have a responsibility to create the most meaningful, efficient, accessible, and inclusive experiences within those products as possible. Our imperative to create better work experiences for all users is underlined by our desire to remain a human-centered company, which is why we are heavily relying on inclusive and intentional user research so that we understand who we are designing for — now and in the future.

We are strengthening and scaling our design and user research practices to include continuous, pragmatic, and strategic research to inform each phase of our product development and delivery. Our aim is to define and influence product strategies that are based on market and competitive insights, user needs, industry and tech trends, market segments, and intensive collaboration with customers and partners.

As our design practices continue to evolve, we will continuously uplift the end-to-end product experiences, injecting moments of delight and micro-interactions, as well as data and interactions and visualizations driven by artificial intelligence (AI) that elevate user engagement and satisfaction. Our evolving design system and language will bring together our product portfolio, our customer ecosystems, and our brand expression across digital, web, and physical touch points, so that we can create meaningful experiences that fuel the future of work.

Maturing the Design Strategy for Better Business Outcomes

Over the past year we have begun rolling out some of the changes to our design strategy and system to reflect the needs of our users today and in the future. As our design system continues to evolve and mature, we are simultaneously undergoing a cultural and intellectual shift in terms of how we build our products. To drive better business outcomes for our customers, we are doubling down on data-driven decision-making, gathering real-time user feedback to strengthen our human-centered and design-led development process. At the same time, we are making design into a true SAP-wide team sport, extending our partnerships across all lines of business to make sure that design has an equal seat at the table for every strategic and product-based decision.

We are working to scale the impact of design, expanding the reach, type, and coverage of design-led innovations, and the maturity of our design practices across our global design community through an ambitious transformation of our strategic design acceleration services. We are building and extending our design practice to ensure we are looking ahead toward the next 50 years of work. Looking ahead, we are building and extending our design practice to include innovation and exploration of emerging technologies rooted in human behavior. Finally, we will strive for deeper user engagement and adoption along with easier and faster system deployments for all our customers in order to put a great user experience at the fingertips of every user.

Customer Co-Innovation with an Engaged Design Community

They say an organization is as good as its people, and we are ramping up our focus and collaboration practices to support being able to leverage the full power of our incredible and talented design community in unprecedented ways by investing in the success of our workforce. But design is not just for designers. To succeed, it requires collaboration with multiple partners and stakeholders across teams and lines of business. This is why we are bringing cross competency teams — design, engineering, product management, sales, marketing, support, etc. — closer together than ever before so that we are prepared to deliver the best products and experiences to our customers and end users.

This cultural shift in how we leverage our talented design community will allow us to co-innovate with our customers and partners in more impactful ways in order to support further business transformation and breakthroughs together.

To learn more about design at SAP, visit sap.com/design.


Arin Bhowmick is chief design officer at SAP.