Innovation by Numbers: Interns’ Final Presentations Make a Difference at SAP
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 weeks since our U.S. interns started their summer internships at SAP. As SAP iXp interns (part of SAP’s Internship Experience Project), they are each required to present on a project they worked on throughout the program at the end of their internships. Interns have five minutes to present their work in front of a panel of judges composed of SAP experts and executives.
Watching more than 200 of our interns present their work, it was prevalent how many parts of our business they impact. They design new app features, create more effective workflows for teams, improve and write new code and much more. They each set the bar high by consistently asking how they can improve our SAP products for our customers, and how their teams can continue to modify their ideas to deliver the best outcomes.
Each intern’s project is a drop in the bucket at SAP. Together, their work speaks volumes to SAP’s road toward innovative solutions and iterations on our products. Their impact on our business extends far longer than the 10 weeks they’re here.
Dive into some of our intern’s projects below to get a glimpse of their influence. You can also find their final presentations here.
Devina Kumar, SDE Intern, Concur Labs Team
My final project was to create a chat service that allows people to chat with travel agents through the Concur app. The project included building a user interface (that someone accessing the chat through Concur Mobile or TripIt would see) as well as an admin interface (what a travel agent handling multiple user chats would see).
This project actually started out as a proof-of-concept that I did this past winter, when I first interned at Concur, but I think that my passion for the project really sparked on my way back to school after my winter internship. My flight was cancelled and I remember going through the painful process of rescheduling/trying to rebook.
I kept thinking that it would have been awesome to have an easy way to chat with a travel agent so that I could save myself hours on the phone. Everything is fun and games until you’re sitting in the airport with no food, two industrial-size check-in bags and spotty WiFi, hoping that you’re lucky enough to get a stand-by ticket so that you can maybe make it to campus before classes start.
I think that one of the most important things I’ve learned from this project is how to think from the standpoint of the user.
At each point, I would ask myself “how would a user interact with this?” and try to optimize their experience. Another takeaway that I’ve had from this internship is learning how to be more intentional with each component. Having reasons behind why I was using a certain type of technology instead of another, or being able to justify a certain user interface all made me think about why I was doing what I was doing each step of the way. I think that this frequent critical examination helped my project move forward efficiently.
Anuj Singh, Business Development Intern, Concur
My final project was about new and innovative ways to connect budget and spend through faster expense processing and payment methods via payment partnerships. Corporate Card networks and Issue banks are becoming more and more receptive to working with third-party SaaS companies due to the rise of API’s and tokenized accessing, allowing for Concur to link with banks creating a more centered and expedited expense reporting process. Virtual cards are being adopted by companies as a new payment type due to their usefulness in predicting expenses and security.
A pain point I noticed was that Concur is still populating expense reports via a scheduled flat file batch job that takes longer than it needs to be. With the rise of API integrations, we can link Concur to willing Financial institutions such as issue banks to allow for direct population of expense reports.
My key takeaways are that financial institutions and networks are adopting new payment methods and are transitioning towards a more plastic-less, API driven world.
Geoff Fowler, Procurement Operation Specialist, SAP Ariba
Max Rowan, Procurement to Pay assistance, SAP Ariba
Our final project, named SAP Otto, was about taking a particular pain point of the customer assistance team (long queues of simple tasks) and solving it by using chat bots that accurately assist customers that have issues. Since our application uses Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, it allows SAP Otto to become better at understanding how the customer words their problems and increases its area of expertise.
If SAP Otto runs into an issue or question that it does not understand or cannot complete, it will hand the issue off to an available specialist, with all the information and steps taken up to the hand off for seamless transition.
From Geoff: I have always had an interest in technology and have recently found myself diving into Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. After being on the phones for about two weeks at SAP, I noticed a trend of calls concerning invoices and password resets. These tend to back up the queue, causing decreased customer satisfaction, even when the issue is resolved on initial contact, due to longer wait times.
Some of the key takeaways that I have from this project were:
- The idea of SAP Otto allows for efficient scalability, and considerable ROI while providing the same level of expertise that a specialist would.
- Our colleagues were genuinely interested in how we created it, how it would handle unfamiliar scenarios, and how we could move forward with integration into SAP Ariba products.
- How simple it was to develop the chat bot that walked a customer through creating an invoice.
From Max: I’m a computer Science major so I’ve always been interested in similar technology, but two semesters ago I took a class that involved IBM Watson’s Conversation tools. My key takeaway from this project is that ideas can come spontaneously.