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A recent headline in Fast Company declared “Design Thinking Starts at the Top.” At SAP, we are proud to be among the ranks of those whose top-most executive – Supervisory Board Chairman and founder Prof. Dr. Hasso Plattner – is a huge proponent of design thinking.

Seven years ago, Hasso established the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University. Today 600 students are enrolled at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, near Berlin, where Hasso himself, regarded fondly by old hands at headquarters in Germany as something of a celebrity-guru, lectures. So it is no surprise that training in design thinking methodology is happening all over SAP. Particularly in the development organization. Even downstairs in my coffee corner:

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Visitors to SAPPHIRE NOW in Madrid will find an exhibit dedicated to showing customers the change in strategy around user experience across SAP. The exhibit will be in a high traffic area in Hall 8 and shows customers UX solutions from across SAP. In the center of these solutions are two design thinking studios to engage customers at SAPPHIRE NOW to help us solve our next UX challenges. Watch for a glass cube, says Jeff Woods, head of product evangelism, who took some time recently to talk to me about this. He describes the exhibit as “very visual, very iterative, very design driven.”

“People have concerns about user experience, so we need to have conversations with customers about those concerns,” says the former Gartner analyst. “SAP has been making software for 40 years – so we’ve evolved user experience several times. But the biggest issue out there is that much of our development and design effort focuses on design for expert users. Lots of systems have their genesis in the time when there were not a lot of PCs out there,” he continues. “As a result, systems have evolved for specialist users to be productive, for people to run large, high scale, and medium sized businesses – that’s the emphasis of SAP Business Suite.”

SAP continues to focus on specialist usage scenarios, but it’s casual usage scenarios that represent a significant opportunity for SAP. With the evolution of mobile devices, casual users, too, need direct access to software systems. “We’re connecting our user experience efforts with business value – making sure that technology is useful from a business perspective,” says Jeff. At the exhibit, customers will be able to engage with designers on the rapid deployment of casual mobile patterns and deploy universal user experience technology. “We trying to make it very clear, simple, action-oriented,” says Jeff.

His mission at SAPPHIRE NOW in Madrid? To “immerse customers” and engage with them in the degree of change around the user experience.

Orders came from the top.

For a glimpse of what to expect at SAPPHIRE NOW, Jeff recommends watching how Nordstrom’s Innovation Lab was designed or how SAP has introduced the “App Haus” in its development organization.

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  1. Tom Van Doorslaer

    Hi Angela,

    I dropped by the Design thinking aquariums and had a lot of fun working together with the people there on improving the experience.

    It was some sort of Empathic, user focused, orchestrated brainstom with just a hint of standup scrum and a seasoning of ergonomy…

    Don’t know if that makes any sense, but if there’s one message I brought back from TechEd, it’s that we must start using design thinking techniques in our internal IT projects.

    cheers!

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    1. Angela Dunn Post author

      Hi Tom,

      What a wonderful comment! I think this is exactly the kind of experience the team wanted visitors to the exhibit to have. I did a video with the main spokesperson at the exhibit and should have it up here in the next days.

      Cheers to you!

      Angela

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