Throughout the last two days of October I have participated in the InnoJam organized by University Alliance together with SAP Labs France in Sophia-Antipolis. The theme of the event was how to mobilize the Business ByDesign experience. Thanks to the SAP partner Ubister, who “donated” three challenging use-cases, participants had a chance to embark on enhancing ByD functionality thanks to mobile applications.

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Our host, Institut Eurécom, moved to the SophiaTech Campus last year. For me, as Eurecom alumni, it was somehow a back-to-school moment. There was no déjà vu for me this time though, as the campus is brand new and you can still smell the fresh paint on the walls on this beautifully located building (see the photo below).

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The event took of on Tuesday, with a traditional breakfast featuring French viennoiserie (which I missed of course, thanks to the long commute from Nice 😀 ). Awaken by the coffee and filled in with extra calories provided by pain au chocolat, participants moved to the aula room, where the introduction session begun.

Among the locals, from Skema Business School, we had also students from other French universities and a school from Tunisia joining remotely. It was quite challenging for them to join the InnoJam, as obviously communication link failures were a bit disruptive and introduced a bit of a hassle in the first morning sessions. Eventually they were able to listen remotely to the introduction presented by Olena Kushakovska and Jean-Christophe Pazzaglia.

Soon after the three use-cases were presented by Ubister, we got another shot of the caffeine and moved to the workshop room to build up the teams and select the challenge that each team will have to implement. In the room all of the participants decided to select the business card scenario, which goal was to solve the problem of manual entry of the business contact details after receiving a business card, e.g. at the event like InnoJam 😉 . The idea proposed to solve this problem was a mobile app that would scan a business card and recognize the contact details, creating a contact business object afterwards in ByDesign system.

Remote team in Tunisia selected a scenario in which the goal was to provide a solution for different methods in entering time recording (hour vs. daily based time booking – depending on the time tracking culture in the country, e.g. Anglo-Saxon countries rely more on hour-based booking, while in France the habit is to use part of the day as the indicator). All teams grouped at Eurecom selected use-case related to business cards: how to improve transferring information from business cards into the ByDesign system. KPI: 10 business cards in less than 1 minute.

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Then the time for the design session has begun. Thanks to support of Design Thinking coaches, teams started analyzing the use-case and provide their ideas of how to solve the problem, provide additional features and build a convincing story line for future customers of the solution. Most of the day 1 was spent on the practical sessions, with a lot of sticky notes, whiteboard markers, balloons ❗ and of course a lot of fun. Once ideas were wrapped up, teams presented their use-case to other groups. Some of the teams took that task very seriously and prepared a thorough characterization through costumes 😉 (see pics below).

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The closing session of Day 1. was a brief introduction to what was awaiting the participants on the next day: implementation of the designs in the a ByDesign system (not to easy eventually, but more about it later on 😉 ). Presentations on that matter were given by local experts from Olena’s team: Tatiana Zubataia and Amine Mabrouk. Tatiana introduced us into the Business Object’s extensions and Amine provided a quick tutorial on hooking things up on the mobile device (iPhone and Android).

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That’s pretty much it for first day of the struggles. After the last presentation, participants gathered again in a forum below the main room to enjoy the evening cocktail party. While locally people returned back home or to hotels, we received the update from Tunisia: students there took the challenge very seriously and are planning to code the whole night! That’s the InnoJam spirit at it’s best!

Nevertheless back at Eurecom the next day we rushed into the “emergency mode” and tried to deliver the final product – demo – in the remaining hours in the competition. Discussions were still very dynamic, however the most important focus was to get something done.

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No need to say that the remaining 8 hours (till deadline at 16:00) felt like 15 minutes, well half an hour max. ByDesign system we needed to configure was not a very friendly team member. However thanks to the experts we manage to discover different quirks and at least have some basic configuration up & running. Though this itself proved merely as a complementary effort to the real challenge: how to present a working mobile application that will be able to scan a business card, recognize the characters, names, contact information and do it under 6 sec. per card? All of the teams located at Eurecom approached the problem in a kind of different way, the result of which was presented during the Jam part of the InnoJam.

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The jury gathered at the front row and patiently listened to the 6-minute presentation of each team. Of course here the virtual link with the Tunisian university was introducing even more challenges for the team located there, as if the lack of direct face-to-face communication with the experts located in Sophia-Antipolis was not enough to discourage the brave students. Their involvement was highly appreciated. After a long debate the jury decided to award the remote team with the main prize! Congratulations to the winners!

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For the locals gathered in the Eurecom forum the runner-up prize was a very pleasant cocktail washed down with (we are in France, so well, guess what) the champagne 🙂 .

The InnoJam experience was a very practical way to learn about SAP technology and design methodologies. Design Thinking sessions proved themselves as a perfect way to teach the way we innovate and develop the great user experience. Hopefully we can expect some more events like that in Sophia-Antipolis!

If you are interested in more details, photos and videos from Sophia-Antipolis InnoJam, please visit also Olena’s blog.

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