What some people refer to as reverse innovation, I call next practices. A perfect example is the energy theft solution, jointly development between our partner Choice and the Co-Innovation Lab (COIL) team based at the SAP Labs Latin America.

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Energy theft is commonly associated with countries such as Brazil and India, where people regularly tap into power lines and bypass measures to access electricity. It is actually the third largest form of theft in the United States. This creates new market opportunities for a product that was developed to address a specific problem in developing countries.

Another example of next practices is SAP Agribusiness Contract Management (ACM), a solution developed to manage crop production and other modern food production processes. It can also help manage natural resources, renewable energy, reforestation projects and many other areas that impact both developed and developing nations.

These kinds of next practices require two key ingredients — and SAP Labs Latin America has both.

1. A talent pool of millennials with the right skillset to drive innovation locally and globally: SAP Labs Latin America’s proximity to some of the key universities in southern Brazil makes it easy to foster local talent through internships. No other country I know has such an amazing attitude towards work study as Brazil, where it is common for students to work fulltime day jobs and then dash off to night classes to study for a college degree or an MBA. These young people enter the workforce already experienced. 17% of the 554  employees at the Lab in Sao Leopoldo started as interns, and 85% of interns end up as full time employees!

2. A state-of-the-art work environment for co-innovation with customers and partners: Our innovative and modern work environment stimulates maximum creativity among our employees and helps ensure that we provide the best service and support for SAP’s 12,000 customers in Latin America and 20,000 across the Americas. Our recently opened LEED Gold-certified second building has the capacity for more than 900 employees across 16,000 square meters. As part of the new building we have also opened the first SAP Innovation Center in Latin America, which consists of three areas:

  • A showcase area to demonstrate the potential of SAP technologies and solutions
  • A Co-Innovation Lab, featuring a data center with the sponsoring of our Partner Net App
  • An executive briefing center, including a Design Thinking area where our teams can engage customers and partners very closely

The Brazilian government has recognized SAP Labs Latin America as a Research & Development center. Customers and partners have used Design Thinking methodology to complete more than 80 successful co-innovation projects there.

This combination of analytical and intuitive thinking helps customers enjoy a reliable, unique solutions based on global best practices that is still flexible enough to allow experimentation and innovation. Our expanded lab landscape enables the kind of revolutionary thinking that will enable joint technological advances to tackle the future’s big issues, such as big data exploding urban populations.

An example of co-innovation between partners, customers and our own best minds involves the security and efficiency of transporting more than 250 SAP Labs Latin America employees to and from work every day via the SAP shuttle bus. Our innovation group — founded by volunteers in 2012 — accepted the challenge and developed a transit solution specialized in bus tracking and route management.

“Time2Go” helps workers find an easy, safe and eco-friendly way to commute — in real time — by using SAP’s latest technology, such as HANA on Cloud and Mobile Platform. From the beginning, our partner university and SAP Labs employees worked closely with potential customers.

The solution is live and used daily by our SAP Labs employees. The SAP custom development team is also evaluating whether or not they can turn this local innovation into a best practice — or next practice — in other countries as an official SAP solution.

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