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Author's profile photo Andreas Hauser

How 10 Customers Create Value with Design

The design of a service or product decides about its success or failure, this is what really makes the difference for successful enterprises. The role of design in an enterprise needs a new definition. Including design experts in the process from the very beginning leads to outcomes that create business value and cover the users’ needs, which is more sustainable than just putting the end result in a good-looking package.

The Design & Co-Innovation Center (DCC) at SAP lives and breathes this idea. The DCC is a global, multicultural and interdisciplinary team of designers, strategists, and project managers that make the needs of end users a priority and provides a complete design service to SAP’s customers. We believe that only looking at the interface is not the solution. To satisfy our costumers we concentrate on their users’ experience. Our mission is to change the perception of SAP’s user experience and design, and for that we focus on working with the right process, people with the right set of skills and in a creative space.

In November 2013 the SAP AppHaus Heidelberg opened its doors to customers to co-innovate in a creative space. Further customer-facing AppHauses in Palo Alto and Seoul are opening soon. This is where we apply our process: discover – design – deliver. At the beginning of the collaboration with a customer we pay close attention to their way of working in order to discover their pain points and to better understand the challenge. Most important: we observe how real users work and identify what they need. While building up a trustful relationship and empathizing with them, we apply the method of Design Thinking, we identify core needs together with the customer and not until then start designing.

We have helped our customers in hospitals and warehouses, redefined how sport clubs and fans can work more closely together, helped governments simplify their processes, enabled oil refineries run simpler, simplified the lives of managers, triggered entry into new markets, and supported embed design, design thinking, and innovation practices in several companies around the globe. All projects have one common goal: deliver business value with design.

We learned that 50% of the screens that our users use are not SAP standard screens. They are adapted or developed by partners or the customer IT organization. With this in mind, the DCC set out with the purpose to empower SAP’s entire ecosystem and to create awareness about the value that design can bring to companies. Check out our UX Value Calculator.

So far we have handled more than 450 projects, but to give a more detailed impression of our daily effort you get to know our biggest successes in this article. Have a look at this video to get an overview:

  1. AMG – Drive Business Growth with Design

    “The collaborative planning tool ‘ROUTE 601’ will rock the IT in the automotive sector”.
    Mercedes-AMG, the sports car brand of Mercedes-Benz, has worked with SAP to build an IT solution that supports cross-functional competence teams. We applied the principles of design thinking and agile software development to bring the Mercedes-AMG vision to life. The solution based on SAP HANA provides access to relevant data in a holistic way and enables a seamless team collaboration.

    The design-led co-innovation process at SAP’s AppHaus acted as a catalyst for changing the nature of our organization’s relationship with SAP.” Dirk Zeller, Head of IT Consulting at Mercedes AMG GmbH. Hear more from Dirk Zeller in this video.

  2. China Grand Auto – Transform vehicle service experience

    China Grand Auto (CGA), one of the largest passenger vehicle dealership and automobile services groups in China, aimed to enhance their customer experience around the vehicle service process. CGA approached the DCC to identify potentials for innovation in the service experience with the focus around the pre-check process when a customer brings their car to be serviced and maintained. The design team conducted two weeks to onsite research at different locations which included activities such as observation, contextual inquiry and more than 15 interviews with service advisors, reception clerks, dealership managers and customers. The special focus on user experience resulted in a SAPUI5 mobile app, available in both Chinese and English on any mobile tablet, for service advisors to facilitate vehicle reception. “I feel this will transform the way our people perform service because it’s grounded in the understanding of the user”, said Liu Cheng, CIO, China Grand Auto.

  3. Coca Cola Hellenic – Speed-up online ordering
    Coca Cola Hellenic’s costumers mainly ordered via telephone because so far it was hard to use the web channel. Based on the findings from workshops, user research, user tests, and interviews, the DCC team created an easy-to-use interaction and visual design of the portal, creating a whole new way of online shopping which allows HBC’s customers to place a fast and easy-to-use online order. Philipa Nikaoleva, BSS Market to Cash Delivery Manager Coca-Cola HBC stated: “The insights gained from the interviews with customers and creative workshops with our business experts in several pilot countries were essential to deliver easy-to-use interaction design. According to this concept, the SAP designers delivered an attractive visual design, which translates our brand and creates a pleasant visual appearance.” After go-live the feedback from end users was overwhelming.

  4. eBay – Reducing decision time
    eBay’s marketing analysts are analyzing online shopping patterns for specific product categories. Innovative and creative UI designs enhanced signal detection to track and solve errors which reduced the decision time from 29 days to 1 day. Due to the sharing of offline Excel versions, global teams could not rely on up-to-date information and downward trends or anomalies were not identified quickly enough. Due to an insight dashboard powered by SAP HANA marketing analysts now have the key data right at their fingertips. Other analysts can also contribute with recommendations to help diagnose problems and bring transparency, resulting in more accurate decision-making. “We will be able to use this system because it is inherently intelligent and configurable”, explains Gagandeep Bawa, Manager, North America FP&A at eBay Inc.

  5. Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane – Redesigning Logistics
    Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FSI) creates and manages railway transportation and services in Italy. The logistics portal serves many different use cases and end users, the overhaul of the underlying software needed to benefit not only FS Italiane, but its suppliers and customers as well. After on-site user research in Bari, Italy, necessary changes in the interaction design were revealed, and a personalized interface was created. By introducing the concept of a launchpad (the branded SAP Fiori portal), the interaction designers removed inoperative fields and significantly reduced the number of actions required. There was a reduction of clicks by almost 50% and a higher acceptance from suppliers and costumers. The software is now accessible by mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, ensuring more efficient communications between users and the employees at Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane’s offices. “User satisfaction should not be underestimated. We work in IT, which means that we work for others. If those who use our products are not happy, we have not done our work properly.”, says Vincenzo Lo Curto, Project Manager for IT Logistics, Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane.

  6. Heidelberg University Hospital – Digitizing cervical cancer screening


    Together with the Heidelberg University Hospital, SAP is setting new standards for bringing applied medical research to Africa. The DCC conducted user research in Kenya, improved and visualized the cervical cancer screening process and created a role-based solution powered by SAP HANA Cloud Platform in close cooperation with Custom Development.

    Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women living in less developed regions but in Kenya it is the most common cause of death from cancer. To improve this situation in Kenya, new methods for cancer screening are desperately required. The Heidelberg University Hospital initiated the Emerging Technologies in Cervical Cancer Screening (ETiCCS) project with the aim to implement an innovative healthcare screening approach in fragile infrastructures.

  7. NCT – Improving people’s lives

    In joint work with the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) we developed an analytics software to improve cancer research. The solution “Medical Research Insights” allows doctors and researchers to access patient data from various systems in real-time which replaces long and time consuming manual processes. “By analyzing big data for clinical processes with help of the in-memory data platform SAP HANA we can decide much faster about effective therapies. In the future this will allow us to contribute even more to individual treatment for cancer patients”, says Prof. Dr. Christof von Kalle, Chair of the NCT Board of Directors and Director of Translational Oncology at NCT and DKFZ. The SAP Medical Research Insights project won the German Design Award 2015, the iFDesign Award 2015 and the SAP HANA Innovation Award 2014. It has also has been awarded with the “German – Land of Ideas 2015initiative and has received a few more recognitions and now more recently the Red Dot Award for Communication Design 2015. This is a great example showing that Design + SAP HANA = Innovation.

  8. NHL – Transforming the fans experience
    As the official cloud software provider of the NHL (National Hockey League), SAP collaborated with the League on the transformation of the NHL’s statistics platform to provide real-time insight for fans to be able to dive into the world of hockey like never before. The team began by deep diving into the world of hockey and the different ecosystems of the NHL. “The process for this redesign has really been a true collaboration between the NHL and SAP. We really wanted to give the user a clean experience which is easy to navigate and also give a level of interactivity.”, says Chris Foster, Director, Digital Business. Such a close working relationship allowed the team to quickly incorporate feedback and work through ideas, making sure the designs met all stakeholders’ objectives. This went beyond updating the visual look and feel but providing fans with a whole new set of tools to go deeper into the game. Since the launch of the website the site visits have increased by 25% with over 400K unique views within the first three days of going live. During the first week of launch there were a total of 107 unique pieces of coverage published, resulting in more than 749 million media impressions and 18 million twitter impressions.

  9. Siemens – Simplifying real estate management
    The Building Performance Management Cockpit co-developed with
    Siemens enables real estate managers to better understand the building portfolio and align property resources with business objectives. It is about to become a standard SAP solution. Facility managers can holistically evaluate the efficiency of buildings and analyze deviations in real-time. “I guess we were a challenging group, and we needed a lot of flexibility. But the project was really constructive and the cockpit as output is excellent”, says Peter Marburger, Head of Sales Energy Efficiency, Siemens Building Technologies.

  10. State of Indiana – Fostering innovation with design thinking
    State of Indiana.JPG
    The State of Indiana was already one of the leaders in providing data transparency to its citizens. To maintain their competitive edge, the State of Indiana was looking to further innovate on this topic. With the help of a Design and Design Thinking the solution became more and more clear: to provide more user-centric data to Hoosiers they decided to focus more on the citizens to understand the true needs. In the end, an aligned strategic vision and roadmap as well as user-centric designs were created. Graig Lubsen, Communications & Marketing Director, Indiana Office of Technology, especially highlighted the importance of the method applied in that process: “Design Thinking involved a shift in how to tackle the problems of customer relations by challenging the normal creative thinking process. It is something that would be beneficial for all our agencies to undertake.” Check out this video to hear more about how the State of Indiana wants to establish a culture of Innovation.

SAP makes good design a reality for daily business software users

These examples have shown that companies strive to remain competitive by continuously improving the efficiency and effectiveness of how they run their business, which is illustrated in this video. A delightful user experience has turned out to be a competitive advantage. We combine design and traditional corporate strategies to create customized solutions focused on the user and thereby help clients run better. By shifting the focus from linear practices to iterative design processes, we can shed light on new options and explore the various alternatives. Our methods include qualitative and quantitative research, low and high fidelity prototyping, data visualization and organizational design. By establishing an adaptive creative team around a meaningful purpose, adopting an empowering management style which controls direction but not its path, and designing conditions which nurture strategic improvisation, the DCC was able to help our customers to become successful with design.

The level of quality of our designs has been recognized by several award committees: the SAP Consumer Insight 365 solution was the finalist in the 2013 Design for Experience Award and was Gold Winner at the UX Award 2014; SAP Medical Research Insights has won eight awards and recognitions, recently the prestigious Red Dot Design Award; the WTA Tennis app won the People’s Choice Award from the UX Awards 2015, the SAP AppHaus Heidelberg has won the 2014 Design for Experience Award and the DCC management was recognized with the 2014 Design Management Europe Award.

These have just been the first steps on our mission to elevate the perception of SAP User Experience and Design. As the approach, focus, and services expand throughout the SAP ecosystem, the DCC will remain at the forefront of defining how to bring design to businesses and ultimately daily business software users.

If you want to know more about the Design & Co-Innovation Center from SAP and our design projects or design services, have a glance at our website or send us an email to

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