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Author's profile photo Elvira Wallis

Converting Physical Into Digital – SAP’s Digital Spaces at SAPPHIRE

Today at SAPPHIRE, I was able to see the future of business. Today, SAP’s Digital Spaces has bridged the divide between the physical locations in which business takes place, and the digital data that powers those businesses. I saw my team blend those two realities into a seamless whole, and I could not have been prouder.

By monitoring the movements of individuals and crowds through the use of Wi-Fi sensors, iBeacons and other sensor technologies, Digital Spaces allows companies to understand how those crowds ebb and flow, where they congregate, and how to best adapt real world spaces to improve their operations. As part of the Digital Boardroom keynote, Digital Spaces exemplifies how customer engagements in the convention center can be tracked and how with the help of some algorithms this real time data can be converted into the sales pipeline, to provide end-to-end visibility.


If you missed the SAPPHIRE presentation and this all sounds a bit difficult to understand, let me provide you with a simple example: today is your first visit to SAPPHIRE, and you wish to find the best route to go to a keynote. With Digital Spaces, we at SAP can alert you when you need to leave for the event, navigate you around any crowds that spring up in your way, and if the keynote is full, suggest alternate activities that have proven to be popular. No longer are you, as a visitor, lost or caught out because of not knowing the convention center you are in.

My team has taken that same technology and applied it to the management of an airport, allowing airport owners to recognize and react to bottlenecks as they form. By correlating crowd flow sensor data with airport staffing and flight schedule data, our software identifies causes of the bottlenecks and suggests adjustments to mitigate the problem. Not only that, Digital Spaces can optimize the passenger flow in real-time by indicating the most effective path to each passenger, preventing those clogs from ever forming.

All of this sounds well and good for the airport and customer satisfaction, but how does it impact top-line revenue? Interestingly, very directly. Airports we have spoken to before SAPPHIRE have found that an extra 10 minutes in security reduced the average passenger’s retail spend by 30%. So just by improving the flow through check-in and security, the retail stores in an airport can increase top line revenue 30%.

Screenshot.pngAnd this technology is by no means limited to a convention center or an airport. Applied to a retail store, it allows managers to improve store layouts, locations of sales and promotions, and place specials at precisely the right location to capture the highest percentage of visitors. We in SAP’s IoT Smart Connected Business division do this by combining data across sensors to understand favorite paths, dwell times, shopper counts and countless other metrics for real time insights into customer activities.

By interlinking the physical world and the digital, we have been able to bring a new set of advantages to corporations – the ability to locate a sale or advert in precisely the right location, to maximize traffic so that individuals don’t become frustrated and leave, to discover how to deliver the right service at the right time for maximum customer satisfaction. Taken together, they will usher in the new world of business, demonstrated so amply at today’s SAPPHIRE presentation.

Today, the physical world and the digital world intersected. With SAP’s Digital Spaces anyone can analyze and understand the actions of individuals in a physical location at speeds never seen before, allowing real-time decision making and adjustments. To see it in person or find out what you missed at today’s keynote, visit us at SAP Runs SAP booth and step forward to see where you have a digital space! I’ll be looking forward to meeting you.

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      Author's profile photo Ravi Kumbhat
      Ravi Kumbhat

      Hi Elvira,

      this is a fantastic article with lot of promise to transform Digital Spaces in the physical world. It also aligns with SAP's Strategy on innovations in the IoT and Big Data. It would be wonderful to see the solution with a planned roadmap. Is it also possible to see a demo of the screenshots that you have shared.



      Author's profile photo Anton Orlov
      Anton Orlov

      Hello Elvira,

      almost two years have gone since your post. What's the current status of SAP Digital Spaces? Is it possible to solve tasks of passenger traffic in airports with SAP solutions?