SAP organized the #innotakeoff competition final showdown event last week at the SAP campus in Palo Alto. The competition was powered by CIO Center for Digital Leadership. The event was led by Carsten Linz– Head of CIO Center for Digital Leadership, Phani Bhushan Dhar and Christian Hastedt-Marckwardt
The main purpose of the competition was to bring up bright ideas and share competencies and to encourage the innovation spirit within and across the organization. By participating in such competitions, the teams can convert their ideas into working prototypes and then into live solutions within just few months. There were 3 tracks in the competition: Students, Startups and SAP Employees.
This year, the main focus was on Internet of Things and Big Data. In the first week of March, all the participants submitted their prototype with a video explaining the main use case and usage scenario and 13 finalists were selected for the final showdown event. Out of these 13 teams, there were 5 student teams, 5 employee teams, and 3 startup teams. Most of the teams used HANA Cloud Platform as the development platform and HCP IoT Services for gathering data from the sensors and devices, and then stored data in HANA in the cloud. For the UI part, they used SAP Fiori in the cloud.
The final showdown event was organized at the SAP Campus in Palo Alto. It was a 48-hour hackathon in which the finalist teams go the last mile to push their prototype and pitch deck forward with the help of extensive coaching whenever required. Participants flew in from different places around the world such as Germany, France, and Israel. There were around 20 coaches and mentors who joined the event to provide some guidance to the teams. The teams were provided with the HCP accounts and all the pre-requisite materials and devices to get them onboarded easily and quickly. The event started with delicious breakfast that acted as energy boosters for participants as well as coaches.
Then Phani welcomed all the teams and gave a brief introduction about the event agenda. After that, Alexander Vonnemann from CDL team explained about User Experience and what are the best practices in order to create engaging user experience. Then I explained about services offered in HANA Cloud Platform and specifically gave an overview on HCP IoT services.
I also gave a cool demo showing them how the data gathered from sensors can be stored in a HANA database in the cloud using IoT services, and how we can use that data to develop a UI5-based web application or in addition integrate that data with Amazon Echo to give some useful insights to the end user. The audience was pretty impressed with the demo as it gave them some ideas as to how IoT services would help them in developing their prototypes. After this session, Aaron Williams and Alvaro Tejada from the SAP d-shop explained about different sensors and devices available and how to use these devices and sensors while building the prototypes.
After the initial session was done, coaches were assigned for each team. There were coaches from the business side, UX side and technology side for each team. As coaches, we went to each of the assigned teams to understand and help refine the solution, the target audience, the value proposition, the technologies used in the project and where they are as far as a working prototype is concerned. We offered them some advice as to where they could enhance their solutions and how they should prepare the final pitch presentations.
My colleague Jin Wong and I were coaches from the technology side for HCP, and we helped many teams when they were stuck somewhere while developing on HANA Cloud Platform and while using IoT services.
Here is a testimonial from Jin about this competition:
“This is my first time participating in the three-day #innotakeoff event. I was given the role of being one of the coaches to support the “xProto” team. xProto consists of 5 team members from Chico State University. The “xProto” idea was about creating prototyping tool for developers, but after hearing the use case on the first day, we convinced them to change the use case because it needs to be related to the “IoT and HCP” topic.
“xProto” was the team’s new idea. The idea was to help shoppers better utilize their time in stores such as supermarkets, retail shops, and etc. Shoppers will login into their online accounts and build a shopping list. Once at the store, a sensor will send an alert to their smart phones if they are near the products on that shopping list.
On the second day, we helped the team prepare a 6 minutes’ elevator pitch. I took the team to COIL and put the students on center stage to practice the presentation. We modified the presentation and demo to be exactly 6 minutes after 3 tries.
On the final day, we were excited to see the “xProto” team win 1st place in the student competition after 3 days of hard work! “
After the introductory coaching, some teams began working with devices while others were working on the code to do some enhancements. All coaches were there all day to help the teams whenever needed. Teams worked hard overnight. The following day, the teams started preparing for their final pitches. As coaches, we went on to see the dry run of their presentations and gave some advice as to how to stick with the presentation time limit, how to anticipate questions, and what topics to focus on.
To judge the final presentations, the jury for the event consisted of Dr. Carsten Linz – Global Head of CIO Center for Digital Leadership, Chris Mark – Executive Director of User Experience & Design, Anamarie Franc – Global Head of UX Strategy & GTM (User Experience & Design), Denis Browne – Senior Vice President of Imagineering, and Jonathan Becher – Chief Digital Officer.
Final pitches started with the Student groups first. There were teams from different universities such as San Francisco State University, Notre Dame University, and Chico State University. You can find more information about student group presentations here.
After the presentations by student groups, there were the presentations from SAP Employee groups who participated. There were 5 participating teams. You can find more information about employee group presentations here.
At the end, we had presentations from the startups. There were some cool ideas presented. 3 startups participated in this competition. You can find more information about their projects here.
Once all presentations were done, the jury selected the top 3 groups from each track. The top 3 student groups were xProto, MintPlug, and Emotiv. In the employees track, ‘Path to Wellnes’, ‘IoTa’ and ‘Economic indicator running on Big Data platform’ made it to the top 3. And among startups, the top 3 contenders were Preventive farming, Bloom, and Disaster Visual Helpline. At the end of the day, there was a nice party organized at a Palo Alto restaurant, which provided participants a well-earned opportunity to relax after 48 hours of continuous coding. On day 3, the top 3 groups presented their demos for all the visitors. People were excited after seeing these innovative ideas.
And then comes the final moment. In the afternoon, the jury announced a winner in each group. Project ‘Bloom’ won the award in the startup track which earned them a $10,000 check. In the student track, project ‘xProto’ grabbed the first place with the prize of a $2,500 Amazon voucher. And project ‘Path to Wellness’ won in ‘Employees’ track and received some cool gadgets like Parrot Bebop 2, Skycontroller, Myo Gesture Control, Fatshark Dominator HD for each team member. Sam Yen, Managing Director of Silicon Valley presented awards to all the winners.
Overall this was a great experience for the participants as well as for the coaches and jury members. Lot of innovative ideas came through and hopefully, we will see some live solutions out of these ideas in near future. If you want to check out some of the ideas of last year’s winning teams, you can check it out here.
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