Putting the Pieces Together

Feature Article | September 8, 2008 by Uta Spinger

Zia Yusuf, executive vice president Global Ecosystem and Partner Group Photo: Carina Kircher

Mr. Yusuf, today, companies investing more than ever in partnerships. How do they benefit from this collaboration?

Zia Yusuf: Customer requirements have become so sophisticated and specialized that companies don’t have all the resources to do everything alone. That requires a different approach. By investing in building a network of partners, companies can accelerate innovation and improve return on investment for customers. But, it shouldn’t stop there—collaboration with customers is critically important to truly driving innovation. Our ecosystem is fueled by a collaborative process – connecting SAP with partners, customers, and individuals to achieve common goals. As a result, we’re bringing together diverse relationships, resources, and communities to help create the next generation of technology solutions in concert with our own development efforts.

So, co-innovation is key for SAP to develop new software solutions. In which areas does SAP collaborate with partners and why?

Yusuf: We need to distinguish between partnering and co-innovation. Plugging application pieces together through interfaces is partnership while putting together resources to jointly create something new is co-innovation. Co-innovation is not only about software, but also about business processes, models, or standards. Co-innovation can also happen between individuals. The SAP Developer Network, called SDN, for example, has 1.2 million members exchanging ideas in 6,000 posts per day is also an example of co-innovation.

How do customers benefit from joint developments by SAP and its partners? Could you describe some examples of co-innovation?

Yusuf: Duet is a good example of co-innovation with Microsoft. The solution enables the integration of our applications into Microsoft Office. The relationship between SAP and RIM is another example. In this case, the two companies have joined forces to enable access to SAP enterprise applications through the widely adopted Blackberry platform. An example of co-innovation from a different go to market perspective is our joint program with HP and IBM, where we have bundled their hardware and database with SAP Business All-in-One.

An example of co-innovation by individuals is our online book project about how to succeed in adopting the business process expert role. Through a Wiki, experts from the BPX community collaborated to capture ideas and distill them into a book that we have published. In the enterprise services community, we co-innovate with partners and customers, who help us define enterprise services. Co-innovation also takes place within the in SDN and our other communities of innovation such as BPX, and the Industry Value Networks.

What are the biggest challenges of collaboration?

Yusuf: True collaboration is a balance and requires attention to the needs of all participants. A healthy ecosystem is not just about the success of SAP. True collaboration is a give and take – where the success of everyone keeps the ecosystem thriving, healthy.. In that sense, SAP has a big responsibility. not only serving as the trusted advisor for our customers but as a valued partner to those companies that are engaged in the ecosystem. It is important that all ecosystem participants realize value.

Read the full interview and more articles on co-innovation in SAP Spectrum.

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