As we near the end of the year, we are excited to introduce the nine finalists contending for the esteemed Hasso Plattner Founders’ Award. This award, divided into three categories, celebrates individuals whose contributions embody SAP’s innovative and pioneering spirit.

Today, we focus on the three nominees 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.

Streamlining Customer Data Extraction: SAP’s New Customer Data Hub

In the realm of artificial intelligence (AI) development, making customer data available plays a pivotal role. Traditionally, this process could take six weeks or longer, causing substantial delays and impacting overall agility. However, the introduction of SAP’s new customer data hub has transformed this scenario, compressing the timeframe down to a brief 24-hour turnover. This accelerated pace can empower data scientists to efficiently handle multiple projects, significantly enhancing their productivity.

To extract customer data previously, SAP’s data scientists had to go through a complex, time-consuming process involving a sequential series of tasks, sifting through vast volumes of entries, and coordinating with multiple departments to extract various data components securely and compliantly.

To address this challenge, a cross-functional team spearheaded by Stefan Thomas resolved to revamp the process. The team was able to develop a prototype within six weeks using the Scaled Agile Framework and then collaborated with business and engineering teams to refine the hub. Four months of concerted effort culminated in the launch of the customer data hub in May 2023, marking its inaugural release to SAP cloud ERP.

Customer Data Hub

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Customer Data Hub

Within this tool, data scientists can kick-start data extraction requests by defining the necessary extraction through a brief description of their needs. The Customer Data Office validates the request and once it is approved, the hub can seamlessly retrieve data from the data pipeline and push it into the internal data lake, consolidating it into a coherent format. The customer data hub can not only facilitate managing data access requests but also helps ensure complete transparency throughout the entire process.

Presently, the hub has processed 15 use cases and successfully extracted 550 customer data sets, marking a significant step forward in data extraction efficiency.

Finalist Fast Facts

  • Submission Title: Customer Data Hub
  • Team: Stefan Thomas, Hanna Schott, Johannes Heinrich, Claus Holzknecht, Richard Grandpierre, Santo Bianchino, Yann Colina, Nicolas Cottin, Alexandra Hofmann, Vaisakh Paruthipatta
  • Number of Employees: 50
  • Achievement: MVP released May 2023, productive usage by pilot cloud ERP line of business, 15 use cases processed, 550 customer data sets extracted
  • Impact: Reduces customer data extraction process by 90% and builds on the foundation to deliver on the strategy around SAP Business AI

Empowering 100,000 Customers: The Service & Support Data Lake AI Expansion

AI has been a game changer, not just for SAP but for the world at large. This year, SAP took a major step forward by launching its AI copilot Joule, signaling a big change in how we handle processes and data as we embrace AI-driven business transformation. The Service & Support data lake is at the heart of this shift, aiming to enhance customer and support engineer experiences by transforming SAP’s AI-driven digital business landscape for support.

Beginning with a small, self-contained team, the project gradually engaged over 150 SAP colleagues. Throughout the process, the primary goal remained unwavering: to craft a seamless, automated system that integrates all AI components – data, governance, and services – into one accessible platform.

Collaborative experimentation across teams helped overcome significant obstacles like resistance to change and resource and technology constraints. By building and successfully operating the Service & Support data lake as a swift, seamless, and scalable value system, the team has not only met its primary goals but also helped change the customer support journey process through a dynamic system that, thanks to machine learning, is constantly evolving.

Service & Support Data Lake

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Service & Support Data Lake

The Service & Support data lake integrates innovation, creativity, and collaboration, acting as an AI hub that can enhance processes worldwide. This new platform has gained positive feedback throughout, highlighting AI’s role in enhancing the support journey.

At present, the Service & Support data lake has enabled SAP to achieve annual cost savings of €20 million and it powers 100,000 customers through 40 AI applications. Popular services like Incident Solution Matching, categorization predictors, outbreak detection, and iSwarm are widely adopted in customer-facing and internal platforms like SAP for Me and Built-In Support.

Finalist Fast Facts

  • Submission Title: Scaling AI to 100,000 Customers
  • Team: Benny Gu, Daria Mashurova, David Molinera, Ishmeet Kaur, Jens Trotzky, Karol Bliznak, Shengjia Feng, Tao Zhang, Thomas Paulus, Wilhelm Juette
  • Number of Employees: 10 core members and an additional 150 in the expanded team
  • Achievement: An AI platform driven by community input, resulting in annual cost savings of €20 million
  • Impact: Supporting 100,000 customers with AI innovation at scale faster than ever

Plutus: Mastering Rate Optimization and Management

Cloud services have become a critical part of SAP’s recent evolution, sparking a significant transformation. To solidify its position as a cloud-centric company, SAP has dedicated extensive time and resources to seamlessly integrate all essential services into the cloud. This effort aims to enhance customer experiences, with Plutus serving as the cornerstone of these endeavors.

Plutus, which leverages SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP), is a one-stop solution for major hyperscalers. It’s crafted to empower lines of business by providing smarter and more efficient advice for optimizing cloud services. Plutus takes the lead in centralizing cost optimization – also known as reserved instances (RI) – management, finely tuned for SAP’s operations. It can go beyond mere cost management, intelligently navigating users through cloud expenses to offer top-notch recommendations and comprehensive end-to-end management. From guidance to execution, it can cater to users’ needs, helping to ensure cost savings every step of the way.

Plutus – Rate Optimization & Management

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Plutus  – Rate Optimization & Management

Donghua Chen and her diverse team, consisting of 60% early talent, with 40% coming directly from the SAP Next Talent program, and 35% female-identifying engineers, set out on an ambitious five-year journey to build Plutus. Their vision was to use cutting-edge technologies to create a 24/7, fully integrated, user-centric cloud service hub. Collaborating closely with multiple colleagues, the team developed a smooth user interface platform that can operate across various channels. Furthermore, Plutus can simplify financial operations processes by offering an intuitive interface across all platforms, eliminating pricing disparities and providing reliable cost-saving solutions. These efforts strongly emphasize SAP’s commitment to advancing global digital sustainability through innovative enterprise solutions.

The team harnessed fresh ideas and diverse perspectives to identify distinct cloud cost optimization needs and implement user-centric solutions to help optimize productivity. Additionally, they recognized the potential of machine learning and AI in streamlining SAP-specific RI management and recommendations. Currently, Plutus leverages machine learning to provide smart recommendations, and the team plans to introduce generative AI to integrate a versatile digital chatbot into Plutus, working to ensure seamless and comprehensive user support in the future.

Plutus allows for a new approach to SAP’s cloud cost optimization strategy, unlocking new avenues for significant cost savings and margin improvements. To date, Plutus has generated over US$920 million in net savings for SAP, with projections reaching $1 billion in Q1 2024. It has also achieved and maintained remarkable, best-in-industry cloud utilization and coverage rates – exceeding 97% and 90%, respectively.

Finalist Fast Facts

  • Submission Title: Plutus – Rate Optimization & Management
  • Team: Sejal Kargal, Donghua Chen, Apoorv Bajpai, Isuru Warnakulasooriya, Ethan Paek, Amber Chong, Brigitte Cheng, Xiaorui Le, Juheng Mo, Andrew Tsui, Colin Harker, Karim Morcos, Nicholas Yu, Philip Yoon, Raj Mehta, Ricardo Medina, Shailee Shah, Sindhu Arulanantham, Wenxi Liu, Wesley Hsieh
  • Number of Employees: 20
  • Achievement: $920 million year-to-date in net savings, featured in Google Cloud Next ’23 conference, highlighted in an SAP Labs Network U.S. campaign
  • Impact: 24/7 self-service functions, full financial recommendations automation, end-to-end cloud lifecycle management, AI and machine learning tailored to line of business needs

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Top image courtesy of SAP employee Sungmin Hwang.