Sky is the Limit: Spirit of Innovation in SAP Asia

Blog written by Christian Klein, COO & Executive Board Member of SAP

Tomorrow’s SAP starts today. Having just returned from an amazing trip in Japan, South Korea and China, it’s clear that SAP Asia is embracing the innovation, energy and spirit that will take SAP to great heights in the future.

During the week, I spent time with customers, partners and colleagues, and from each and every one of them, I had the sense of their commitment to innovation, their engagement with technology and the powerful potential that this region holds. I also engaged with the media, who see SAP as leading the move to the intelligent enterprise.

I also met the start-ups and investors forming the first cohort of the SAP.iO Foundry in Tokyo, as well as over 600 employees who attended the All Hands Meeting and a coffee corner in person and online.

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Customers Have Strong Feelings About Toothpaste. This Start Up Uses AI To Help Companies Understand Those Sentiments

For shoppers aged 30-64 years old, 73 percent have posted online product reviews. This can have a huge financial impact: 94% of shoppers say an online review has convinced them to avoid a business. The problem for product manufacturers and retailers is how to quickly make sense of consumer sentiments across multiple online forums – not to mention data from internal sources like call centers, stores or surveys. With all that unstructured data and no way to make sense of it, companies struggle to understand their customers, competitors and markets. Currently, most organizations rely on data scientists and analysts, but this manual process is slow and expensive.

New York City-based startup, Revuze, has found a way to automate this process using its artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to analyze customer opinions from different channels and data stores, tracking their perception of specific products and markets. The company believes it’s closing the last gap in customer experience with its solution which is already used by giants like Dolby, Pampers, Oral-B, Zara, Gillette and Barbie.

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3 Things with Ram Jambunathan

1. Ram, SAP is a purpose-led organization. What is one thing you do, in life or business, that demonstrates this?

I am often asked why we are doing this.  Well, fundamental to everything we do is for our customers’ benefit, which is in turn reflected in business performance. It turns out that these groups of founders, such as women and minorities who have traditionally been ‘underinvested in’, consistently deliver high business returns, because they are building solutions that customers want.  It makes sense to prioritize and emphasize our efforts and investments to support these groups – they’re doing all the right things.  

As managing director of SAP.iO, I have global responsibility for supporting early-stage external startups through our unique mix of investments and incubation.  As part of this, I am extremely proud to be driving SAP.iO No Boundaries, our commitment to supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs in business to business tech, through which we have pledged to support more than 200 select, high potential B2B tech startups by 2023. 

Some critics ask if we have lowered the bar. My response to that is absolutely not! It simply means we need to search harder to find these entrepreneurs because they generally don’t have the access or the network to find funding or customer introductions that other groups typically enjoy.  So it’s not about giving special favors, but it’s about ensuring we are able to hear their voices. 

I personally know of the struggles and hurdles that women or other underrepresented entrepreneurs in tech face – in building a network, getting funding, attracting customers and being taken seriously.  I personally know women who were told ‘You don’t need an investor, you need a rich boyfriend’‘I can’t invest in someone if they are going to have a family at some point’, or even (believe it or not) ‘You won’t date an investor? Sorry, I can’t work with you’

As an entrepreneur and innovator, myself, this one is personal for me and we need to change the status quo!

2. Ram, who is the one person you consistently read and why? 

One person who I consistently read, and follow is Horace Dediu (@asymco), author of the asymco blog and an expert on how innovations are absorbed by markets, and why some platforms end up winning.   Horace combines a structured way of thinking with deep content expertise that results in foresight on how the future will evolve, including in areas such as mobile computing and the future of transport (e.g., micro-mobility, electric vehicles).  He then tests these predictions over time with a rigorous, data-driven approach, but also notes: “All great insights I’ve ever seen have come from n=1 [data points]”. 

I first discovered Horace in 2009 when I stumbled onto his initial blog post where he shared his predictions (starting from 2007) how Nokia / like competitors would evolve through 2014.  And, as the years evolved, his predictions came to be stunningly prescient.  He ended his first post in this way: 

“The key takeaway from this analysis is that the industry standard product cycle for an integrated, platform-based product is 5 to 8 years and if one competitor can achieve a 2 to 3 year cycle, then the more nimble competitor can “turn inside” the industry and, within two cycles, dominate it. Although smaller competitors are able to turn product faster, they are usually unable to sustain the platform heavy lifting (which takes an order of magnitude more effort/assets).” 

I think all of us at SAP can recognize parallels to what’s happening in enterprise software, and the importance for SAP to run nimble and simple. And I’ve been hooked since. 

3. What is one life lesson that you’d share with your younger self.

About Ram Jambunathan

Ram is the Managing Director of SAP.iO. In this role, Ram is responsible for the SAP.iO Fund, which makes direct investments into early stage startups and the SAP.iO Foundries, a global network of top-tier, primarily zero-equity ask startup acceleration programs for startups in areas strategic to SAP. Ram has been with SAP for 10 years, leading various strategic initiatives. Before joining SAP, Ram was consultant at McKinsey & Co., a founder of T-Networks (now part of Broadcom), and a Member of Technical Research & Development at Lucent Technologies. Ram has more than 5 patents and more than 10 peer-reviewed publications, and received his doctorate in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan Ann-Arbor. In his spare time, Ram practices freestyle rapping about SAP.iO.

Ready, Set, Go: The ‘What’ and ‘Who’ of An SAP.iO Foundry Program

Originally published on Medium by Dima Durah

A typical SAP.iO Foundry program spans over 12-weeks and consists of one-on-one mentor meetings, focused workshops, executive visits, SAP customer visits, weekly status-update sessions, individual IT support and technical integration sessions (we have a dedicated expert on the team), individual business development sessions (we also have a dedicated BD expert on the team), a sprinkling of community events…all leading to Demo Day and it’s legendary after-party.

With SAP.iO Foundry, our mission is to help startups build “with” SAP, via integrations or APIs and provide startups with unprecedented exposure to SAP’s +400K customers. It’s no secret that Inclusive Entrepreneurship is high up on SAP.iO Fund and Foundries list of priorities and a big part of our mission. We want to empower women and minority entrepreneurs to build successful businesses around SAP.

We put together the #Noboundaries initiative to execute programs that can have real impact. After 3 months of planning and doubling our team size in EMEA, we’re excited to officially kickoff our Women and Diverse-led Tech Enterprise Acceleration program on Tuesday, 28 May in Berlin.

Below is an overview of what is planned for the next 12-weeks at the #FoundryBerlin.

More and more workshops, talks, and visits keep being added to the program. Our basic “programing” blocks are split into 4 segments each focused on a fundamental piece of a startup’s acceleration journey with SAP.

Are you ready for the next 12-weeks?

An overview of what the #FoundryBerlin team planned for the summer cohort

Behind this audacious plan, is a small yet effective team (small input, outsized output). The familiar faces/suspects are now joined by two new members — who have been working tirelessly to build a program that executes 1. on SAP.iO’s overarching mission and 2. adds real-value to the startups’ journey with and beyond SAP.

Our two latest additions to the team on the ground in Berlin are: Astrid Freier,SAP.iO Foundry Berlin Head and Miroslav Dimitrov, Foundry Berlin Program Manager.

We sat down with Astrid and Miroslav to find out their motives behind joining the #iOfamily and what they’re bringing to the table in terms of expertise, skills, and hidden talents.

Miroslav Dimitrov and Astrid Freier

Q. What made you decide to join the SAP.iO Foundry Berlin?

Astrid: I am a believer in the SAP.iO Foundry concept because it is a frontrunner for forward looking business models. The combination of: fund, accelerator, and the expertise of SAP and its customers with the added emphasis on “no boundaries initiative is very unique.

Miroslav:What first captured me was the mission — helping innovators inside and outside of SAP build products, find customers and change industries. It is very rare to have the opportunity to work with industry leading companies as well as small and innovative startups. Then, I got to meet the team behind this big initiative and I immediately know that I had to be part of it. Frankly, I cannot think of a better job that satisfies all my interests and at the same time gives me the opportunity to wear so many different hats.

Q. How can your unique background, set of skills, expertise, or network help the Foundries’ startups?

Astrid: I am excited to bring in my holistic view of business model and tech and financing/VC to help scale sustainable businesses.

Miroslav: My experience spans from being a consultant, helping our customers implement SAP software, to being part of the Presales Business Architect team, dedicated to advise our strategic customers in Eastern Europe with their digital transformation roadmaps and strategies. Therefore, I believe I can help them with b2b sales, business case development and GTM strategy.

Q. What is a SaaS tech trend/breakthrough you’re most excited about?

Astrid: There is still a lot of unlocked potential in AI and ML, especially when it comes to strategic customer value. If we can prove how much value was provided this will help our clients’ organizations align their marketing, sales, customer success, and product initiatives around these measurers to really drive customer value creation.

Miroslav: Not a SaaS trend, but it is tech trend I am most excited aboutQuantum computing. Although in its very early stages, I believe that this emerging technology would bring incremental change to a range of industries like automotive, chemicals, pharmaceutical and financial services, to name a few. In the long run, it could make the fastest supercomputer today look like an abacus. However, there is still a (very) long way to go.

Q. Who is your role model or #lifegoals?

Astrid: Ada Lovelance Byron, a mathematician of 19th century, who worked on Charloes Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer.

Miroslav: Fictional one — James Bond (Daniel Craig), If you think about it, he operates in startup mode — he always ends up doing 90% of the work alone and he does it in style.

Q. Name a book that influenced you beyond words?

Astrid: It is Marc Uwe Kling’s Quality Landbecause he tries to think about our digital society in a futuristic way.

Miroslav: Skin in the game. I like how Nassim Taleb is arguing for/ ‘pro’ the idea that decision makers in all fields should be more accountable of the consequences of their actions — both positive and negative.

***

Prior to joining SAP.iO:

Astrid established and managed the digital ecosystem for Deutsche Bank across Germany’s major startup hubs. In addition to her corporate career, Astrid is also a founder focusing on AI and ML regulatory solutions for banking and insurance industries.

Miroslav is joining us from our field organization unit. He spent 3 years at SAP Bulgaria advising our strategic customers on their transformation projects. Before his stint at SAP, Miroslav was an SAP consultant team lead and project manager working on international implementations across Europe.

Mission driven employee engagement — CariClub is using tech to bridge the gap between talent and nonprofits

Moving to the US when he was just twelve years old, from Saint Lucia, he worked hard through school and college, landing a coveted job on Wall Street. But for Rhoden, he was yet to find his true calling. “While working for one of the largest banks in the world was rewarding, it felt like something was missing, and I tried to fill the void by working harder, but it wasn’t the answer.”

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Open for Collaboration: SAP.iO Foundry Munich

The SAP.iO Foundry Munich officially launched on May 14th with a gathering of over 100 executives, entrepreneurs, collaborators, and colleagues. Philippe Souidi, Head the new Foundry, moderated the program, which featured insights from Alexa Gorman (SVP, Head of SAP.iO Foundries Europe), Moritz Zimmermann (Chef Technology Officer, SAP Customer Experience), and Eugenio Cassiano (Chief Innovation Officer, SAP Customer Experience).

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Alain Charroux : «L’expérience de Fellowship m’a apporté tant humainement que professionnellement»

Quel est ton rôle chez SAP ?
Je viens de l’entreprise KXEN. Au moment du rachat, j’étais responsable des différentes couches d’accès et de flot de données sur Predictive Analytics. Aujourd’hui, je suis Product Owner APL – (Automated Predictive Library), un composant qui permet à HANA de faire directement du Machine Learning.
En 2017, j’ai également participé au programme « Curriculum Dev Expert » ! Et c’est validé, j’ai obtenu ma certification ! La même année, j’ai fait la rencontre de Sébastien Gibier, directeur SAP.iO Foundry Paris grâce au programme « Start-up select ». Nous avons aidé une start-up en leur proposant des ressources autour du Machine Learning. Sébastien m’a ensuite proposé un fellowship.

Why we’re partnering with The Riveter

At SAP.iO, we believe that a small input can have a big output. Every day, we help entrepreneurs grow their businesses and deliver solutions that help our 404k+ customers win in a rapidly changing world.

Building a diverse ecosystem of startups around SAP is vital to our customers’ success, which is why we launched SAP.iO No Boundaries, the first inclusive entrepreneurship initiative in the enterprise tech industry. We are on-track to deliver on SAP’s bold commitment to fund or accelerate 200 startups founded by underrepresented entrepreneurs by 2023 and recognize that access to capital is just one component of building a world with no boundaries.

An inclusive ecosystem needs to run differently — and The Riveter is redefining co-working with its network built by women, for everyone. Their founder, Amy Nelson, sums it up perfectly: “Our plan isn’t dealing with existing power dynamics, but rather building a new one.”

Just like The Riveter, we roll up our sleeves and get to work — funding and accelerating companies one-by-one. Our team meets entrepreneurs where they are and provides customized and relevant support to help them thrive. Founders like Shirley Chen (Narrativ) and Jasmine Crowe (Goodrshared their journeys with the audience at SAP’s annual SAPPHIRE NOW conference and represent the success of over 125 of our alumni who are shaping the future of enterprise tech.

Austin is a hotbed for innovation and we’re looking to discover innovative enterprise tech startups that are focused on Health and Experience Management — the focus of this year’s SAP.iO Foundries Fall Cohorts in New York and San Francisco. The extraordinary business leaders that win the competition will be awarded exclusive, fast-track access to the SAP.iO Foundries Cohorts selection committee, along with membership to The Riveter.

There is so much genius out there waiting to solve urgent challenges and our hope is that our partnership with The Riveter will build bridges to new communities and uncover exceptional startup innovation. Our Austin Pitch Competition will take place this Thursday, June 13 at The Riveter’s incredible space. Join us in Austin and share this with anyone you know who may be interested.

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Start-ups and the SAP CX Partner Ecosystem

SAP Customer Experience has closely collaborated with start-ups over the past year, which showed an enormous acceleration in innovation and gave selected SAP CX teams the agility and speed to increase the output of new product pilots significantly. One example is digital search. SAP Customer Experience Labs developed a prototype, called FashionLabs, which allows consumers to take a picture of an item of clothing and then, through visual analysis, shows them similar garments. The IP (intellectual property) for the visual search component in this prototype doesn’t come from SAP, but from a startup (Syte.ai).

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How to Nurture an Innovation Ecosystem for Customer Experience

For more than 20 years, Moritz Zimmermann has been an entrepreneur. He helped found Hybris (an omnichannel ecommerce company, acquired by SAP in 2013 for $1.4B USD) right out of university and is a self-professed lover of new technology and the startup culture. Now as Chief Technology Officer for SAP’s Customer Experience business unit and responsible for developing the SAP C/4HANA CRM suite, he’s helping to nurture an innovation ecosystem that will compliment and extend the reach of the suite. With support from Moritz’s team, SAP will open a new startup accelerator in Munich, Germany on May 14 that will invest in young companies focused on customer-experience. The center is part of the SAP.iO Foundries, an SAP-run accelerator which invests in early-stage enterprise startups and has locations in Berlin, New York, San Francisco, Paris and Tel Aviv.

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«CX Revolution» placé sous le signe du partage et de l’émotion

A toutes et à tous,
C’est un grand succès pour tout SAP en France ! Avec plus de 600 participants, l’événement «CX Revolution» du 3 avril a été une immense opportunité pour présenter SAP sous son visage le plus innovant, avec l’Humain au centre. Et pour cette première édition, nous avons attaché une importance toute particulière à mettre l’émotion au cœur de cette expérience client. Animé par François Massemin, VP – Head of Customer Experience SAP France et Alex Atzberger, President Customer Experience – SAP, je peux vous dire que nos messages ont trouvé un incroyable écho chez nos clients, prospects et partenaires.

SAP.iO: Two Years, Three Key Learnings

Once upon a time, the startup vs. big company story was like that of David and Goliath. The large company, comfortable in its market dominance, only to be upset by the agile, hungry, underdog startup who used its lowly position to have an ear closer to the ground of innovation. The managing Director of SAP.iO had the privilege of helping to direct a different story: that of the mouse and the lion realized how their unique strengths and sizes can complement each other.

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