Osmosis: Innovation across boundaries
Original Aurhor – Aritraa Mitra:
Innovation is the forte of the youth. The most innovative companies today like Microsoft, Apple and SAP were created by young people with the innovator’s spark. How to ignite this spark? How to make innovation a way of life for young people in India, who are generally burdened with course work which endows them with a corpus of theoretical knowledge but little practical experience? SAP Osmosis, which aims to propagate the innovation culture of SAP amongst the college students in Karnataka, India, is one such initiative. This was clearly articulated by Anirban Dey, M.D. SAP Labs India, who said that the program will help the students experience innovation. He said that Osmosis aims to germinate the seeds of the next Google, and SAP in India.
In this program, sessions are conducted at various engineering colleges, and at times, at SAP Labs India campus, to help the students innovate technological solutions to various real-life problems. The students are provided the necessary tools and educated on the defining technological concepts of the day like big data, mobility, and cloud. Moreover when the Osmosis sessions are conducted at the SAP Labs India campus, the participants are also provided training on HANA, HTML 5 and UI Technologies along with SAP UI5. After this, in many of the sessions, the students use design thinking to create real solutions to problems. As Sunder Madakshira, Vice President – Marketing and Corporate Communications, SAP, India, explained, one learns from various sources: from one’s teacher, from one’s colleague, from self-study, and from observation. Osmosis has been designed to become a confluence of these various sources of knowledge.
Since the start of the program in February 2013, with a three-day knowledge sharing and innovation forum for students held at SAP Labs India Bangalore, in collaboration with the government of Karnataka, 6 Osmosis events have been conducted. The first event, which witnessed the participation of 50 students from prestigious colleges in Bangalore, created a high benchmark for the program to match up to. The event was structured so that students experienced the functioning of a software product development company and learned about their products and solutions. On the first day, they were educated on topics like SAP HANA, and Mobility. On the second and third days, they applied their learning to solve a real life problem, in retail management, using Design Thinking methodology. SAP experts helped students’ prototype their ideas and create solutions that have business value. The participants demonstrated their solutions to a panel of judges comprising of senior technologists from SAP and officials from Government of Karnataka. They were judged on parameters like understanding and utilizing the knowledge shared, thought process and uniqueness of the idea, and the end user experience. Many innovative solutions were created by the students. The winning team created an app called “Shop Buddy” which helps customers buy products based on their personal choices, and preferences.
Following this, an SAP Osmosis outreach event was held at Tumkur University on April 1, 2013. The students of the university were presented a short overview of SAP, along with interactive sessions on topics like big data, mobility, and cloud. There was also a session on career planning for the students. The sessions were general, and aimed at a broad audience, not from an engineering background. The participating students were extremely inquisitive, and asked many relevant questions during the sessions.
Last month an Osmosis session was organized at MSRIT, Bangalore in which 100 students participated. This featured presentations on Cloud, Mobility, SAP Corporate Profile, Big Data analytics highlighting the recent work on IPL, and Project Ganges. A hands on session on SAP HANA was also presented to familiarize the students on the development aspects of the platform. At the end of April SIT Tumkur also got the Osmosis flavor. The highlight of this interaction was a series of app demos by the mobility team.
The third SAP Osmosis event was organized at UVCE, Bangalore, and was attended by 40 students.
The last 3 Osmosis events in 2014 were organized in SAP University Alliances member institutions and the students were left with a “Challenge” to develop a solution using SAP HANA and the various data sets available at www.data.gov.in. The finalists students would be called to SAP Labs, Bangalore campus to take part in a finale event.
This deep interaction between the students and the software professionals is helping to create a more innovative environment amongst the youth in India. It encourages the students to interpret and appreciate technology better, and become innovators in their own right. As Dr Maulishree, CEO IT Skills Development Society pointed out, “We started in 2012 with the vision of updating students with the latest technology which takes a long time to be incorporated in the textbooks and by the time it is featured in the books, the technology becomes obsolete. SAP Osmosis was conceptualized to help students understand technology in real time and fast forward their employability and entrepreneurial passions to enable their relevance in the global arena.” In the years to come these kinds of programs have the potential to re-energize India’s latent creative spirit and turn the country into a hub for ground-up innovation.