How SAP is building engagement through co-creation

B2B enterprise software giant brings its AppHaus co-creation approach to Australian shores

The enterprise software industry emerged in the 1990s as an attempt to bring standardisation to business processes and fast-track outcomes for clients. But in an era where personalisation of experiences is now critical, software makers are having to rethink how to bring flexibility back into these products.

So in 2010 enterprise software maker, SAP, opened its first dedicated application design centre, known as the AppHaus, where its customers could co-create solutions alongside the vendor’s technologists.

Now in 2019 SAP, has brought the concept to Australia through a partnership with Melbourne-based experience agency, Bourne Digital. Founder and managing director, Selim Ahmed, says the partnership is about working together with a common philosophy around improving experience for SAP customers, and particularly users of the S/4HANA enterprise software suite.

 “With S/4HANA, people are wanting to build new experiences,” Ahmed says. “The world has changed to not just be process-focused, but user-focused. And so with that they want to build personalised and unique user experiences aligned with the business for differentiation, efficiency and things like that. The AppHaus is about taking those customers and helping them build experiences.”

This co-creation approach was recently employed by Bourne Digital in an engagement with agricultural products and services business, Landmark, where it was used to resolve a problem statement regarding the streamlining of organising agricultural fairs.

A former director of commerce mobile and UX solutions at SAP, Ahmed launched Bourne Digital three years ago partly to assist SAP clients improve their mobile and overall user experience. And while Bourne Digital utilises tools from other suppliers, Ahmed says the design thinking approach employed by SAP is aligned with how he already works with clients.

Vice-president and head of SAP AppHaus for Asia, Christopher Han, says the goal of the AppHauses is to humanise business software and help ensure innovation gets into the hands of end users. It’s reflective of SAP’s transition from being a company focused on developing software that provides an outcome to focusing on providing an experience, he says.

Hence facilities are now focused on the challenge of how to co-create innovation and grow the humanisation of business software. The three key pillars of the AppHaus are based around people, process and space.

“We work with customers by providing interdisciplinary team, using a human-centred innovation process, and working in creative spaces to produce the best results for our customers,” Han says.

Benefits are not just restricted to individual client engagements, either. As a customer-facing organisation within SAP’s technology and innovation group, Han says the AppHauses often uncover insights that can be fed back to SAP’s product teams and incorporated into future general software releases. One of these related to a customer churn intervention project for a client, which now forms part of SAP’s new customer retention offering.

For Bourne Digital, it now joins a network of AppHauses globally, five of which are run directly by SAP, and through which it can share what it is learning through its co-creation engagements with clients.

“What we want to do is share knowledge, share information, and share process, so we are continually improving the way we work,” Ahmed says. “Because the digital paradigm is an ever-evolving beast.”

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