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Simply Transforming the Customer Experience

How Partners Drive Innovation Through the SAP Platforms

by Diane Pereira | SAPinsider, Volume 15, Issue 4

October 1, 2014

The SAP platforms are designed to make application development and use simple and seamless. In this article, members of SAP’s Global Partner Operations (GPO) team look at how SAP and partners work together using the SAP platforms to create customer-driven applications that solve specific business problems and change the way that customers use enterprise software.


The simplicity, flexibility, and seamlessness of today’s SAP platforms are revolutionizing the way enterprise-class applications are built — and who builds them. Armed with these open, easy-to-use platforms and an attentive technology partner in SAP, developers around the world are building an array of inventive solutions to solve specific business problems, such as analyzing hundreds of millions of rows of data in complex processes, or automating simpler tasks for small departments.
Customers are getting into the act, too, working with SAP partners to build new applications that solve challenges facing enterprises today. The SAP HANA platform, SAP Cloud Platform, and SAP Mobile Platform, for example, are leveraged through collaborative programs such as the SAP PartnerEdge program for Application Development, and SAP Co-Innovation Lab. In this article, Luís César Verdi, Bernd-Uwe Pagel, and Ralph Stemler from SAP’s Global Partner Operations team share their thoughts about how SAP works with partners to create customer-driven applications that solve specific problems and change the way that customers use enterprise software.

Innovation by Customers, for Customers

Luis Cesar Verdi

Luís César Verdi
Senior Vice President
Global Head of OEM & MCaaS

Verdi is responsible for helping SAP develop innovative ways to take new products to market, with emphasis on partner-built applications that run on SAP HANA. He says that partners and customers develop many great ideas outside the company, which is where the real innovation happens.
“There is so much potential for innovation with SAP HANA,” says Verdi. “It’s not just customers leveraging it to accelerate existing internal processes. It’s also creating new processes that were previously impossible to have. That’s why SAP HANA is a game changer.”
SAP has initiated a number of programs to support companies developing on the SAP platforms. The SAP PartnerEdge program for Application Development, for example, has resulted in the creation of more than 200 applications now available in the SAP Store, with hundreds more in the pipeline.1 Meanwhile, SAP Co-Innovation Lab facilities around the globe provide state-of-the-art facilities for customers and partners to experiment with the latest technology and test their creations.

The Art of the Possible

As Verdi explains, the SAP platforms let customers and partners explore “the art of the possible.” That’s what SAP partner Cognilytics had in mind when it sought to improve how financial companies analyzed risk. Cognilytics created a cloud-based platform to quickly and accurately assess a company’s credit risk profile across its lending portfolios. The application allows a bank executive to show regulators vital information in real time. One example is the institution’s credit risk, which is presented by aggregating the probability of default, prepayment, and the loss given default for every individual loan in the bank’s portfolio on a monthly basis — factoring in projections of gross domestic product, interest rates, unemployment, and other key macroeconomic factors. “Think about how complex that is,” Verdi says. “You have 400 million rows of data with sub-second response time while the regulator is in your office, and you can deliver the answer or provision it to the cloud.”
In other scenarios, partners and customers are developing individualized applications that, for example, predict consumer buying tendencies or analyze the human genome so that doctors immediately can identify the best chemotherapy drug based on a cancer patient’s biology. “This is not just improving the business,” says Verdi. “This is transforming the business.”



“Whether you’re looking to analyze the human genome or just reduce expense report costs, the SAP HANA platform is a powerful canvas for innovative developers.”

— Luís César Verdi


Power and Simplicity in the Platforms

While some applications may illustrate the power of the SAP platforms, others demonstrate their simplicity. In the corporate world, it is common for organizations to audit only 5% of expense reports due to resource and budget constraints. As a result, expense management is an inefficient process that can cost companies a lot of money.
Using the SAP HANA platform, Deloitte created an application that analyzes 100% of expense reports and reduces the number of employees needed to examine those reports. “It saves the company a tremendous amount of money, has significant return on investment, and makes the company more compliant,” says Verdi. “Whether you’re looking to analyze the human genome or just reduce expense report costs, the SAP HANA platform is a powerful canvas for innovative developers. Add cloud capabilities, and all these innovative applications can be delivered in an accelerated fashion, too. Cloud adds a totally different value proposition regarding time to market.”

Giving Partners an Edge in Application Development

Bernd-Uwe Pagel

Bernd-Uwe Pagel
Senior Vice President
ISVs and Digital Commerce

“Adoption of the SAP HANA platform will be driven to a new level with the availability of standard applications that serve customers’ business needs almost out of the box,” says Pagel, who is responsible for driving more application-level innovation for customers via software partners. “We see this dynamic in platform-driven markets. The availability of ready-to-consume applications drives adoption, which drives partner interest to provide even more and better applications.” 
With SAP HANA, mobile, cloud, and other technologies as a solid foundation, SAP created the SAP PartnerEdge program for Application Development. The goal was to make it easier for partners to develop on the SAP platforms, which in turn will provide greater choice for customers. “With success around the SAP platforms, we have to think about ways to make it even easier for partners,” Pagel says. “Working with SAP should be simple, inexpensive, and automated, so we can work with thousands of partners. That’s what we’re building with this program. We need many partners to create content and provide feedback.”
In less than two years, the SAP PartnerEdge program for Application Development has attracted more than 700 members, adding new partners almost every day.
“We have a number of technologies in the program,” says Pagel, “including SAP HANA Cloud Platform, SAP Mobile Platform, SAP HANA, and the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence suite. We also offer tools for partners to build extensions to SAP Cloud solutions, such as SuccessFactors solutions on SAP HANA Cloud Platform. This program gives partners access to all these technologies.”

Collaborate, Explore, Simplify

SAP and partners work together in 10 SAP Co-Innovation Lab facilities around the world to develop joint solutions that make life easier for enterprises in a number of areas, including cloud, big data analytics, and mobility.
From inception, the SAP Co-Innovation Lab facilities intended to provide active engagement, an open platform, and a better customer experience using hardware and software provisioned to replicate real production environments to test solutions. Currently, the lab has four major sponsors — Cisco Systems, Intel, NetApp, and VMware — providing the bulk of the infrastructure. Many other large hardware vendors seek to join. A number of smaller partners and firms also participate.

While the SAP Co-Innovation Lab locations were designed to demonstrate and showcase technology, they also give partners a seat at the table with customers so they can provide technology roadmaps and receive feedback to accelerate the development of new solutions.

Platforms to Build On

SAP and partners are closing deals for up to several thousand users at a time with a variety of solutions built in SAP Co-Innovation Lab facilities and the SAP PartnerEdge program for Application Development. Mobile applications have drawn the most attention from both developers and customers thus far.
“We are looking for partners to create applications for what customers in any specific market need,” says Pagel. “In fact, we encourage partners not to shy away from developing applications that might compete with our portfolio. That’s how innovation happens.”
This innovation is not limited to solution providers or systems integrators. Some of the technology industry’s bellwethers also are working with SAP to create simple, effective offerings and improve the underlying technologies. For example, Intel works with SAP to design chip-level improvements to maximize the power of SAP HANA.
Companies such as HP, Cisco Systems, and Hitachi Data Systems work with SAP to deliver that power to customers in appliance form. “You want to have the hardware and software optimized in something that is ready to run with software pre-installed,” says Verdi. “These relationships help deliver a turnkey appliance.”
SAP and HP have also collaborated with Accenture to create a hosted solution that simplifies the consumption of specific industry applications through a unique subscription-based model.2

Crossing Vertical Lines

Ralph Stemler

Ralph Stemler
Senior Vice President
Global Head of Industry Ecosystem

SAP HANA Cloud Platform provides the ability for partners to deliver industry-focused solutions in the cloud. For example, even though a cloud version of SAP’s core banking solution has not been finalized, CSC, an SAP partner, already offers it in a cloud model by providing the hosting infrastructure as a managed cloud as a service, including its own services and extensions.
“With all our deep industry expertise, we want to provide customers with industry solutions in the cloud across all verticals,” says Stemler, who helps drive partner engagement for industry cloud platforms at SAP. “In many cases, partners are closer and better equipped to address those unique requirements.”
Every vertical market consists of many subcategories that require unique solutions. For example, within financial services, commercial banking customers need different applications than insurance or capital markets customers do.
“We can recruit partners to build unique applications to bring to those customers,” says Stemler. “Building on our platforms is one of the key ways to help customers get exactly what they need.”

A Seamless Approach to Innovation

The SAP platforms are designed to make application development and use simple and seamless, reducing the need for customers to spend significant resources performing integration with their back-end systems. As easy-to-use cloud and mobile applications increase, customers expect higher levels of ready-made integration.

Perhaps the most important development around SAP HANA isn’t what has been created so far. It’s about the potential applications that will leverage SAP HANA.

“You have this notion of being able to provide these solutions as a seamless whole, working through one partner,” says Verdi. “In getting more sophisticated, we can simplify the experience.”
Perhaps the most important development around SAP HANA isn’t what has been created so far. It’s about the potential applications that will leverage SAP HANA.
“When you combine SAP HANA with SAP HANA Cloud Platform, you can consume it as a service, which means rapid time to market,” says Verdi. “Whether that’s in health care, or a new process for a manufacturing line, or fraud prevention in banking, you can create real-time applications that are unique, rapidly developed, and deployed to SAP Cloud. We can’t wait to see what comes next.”

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Diane Pereira
Diane Pereira

Diane Pereira ( is Senior Director of Partner Marketing Communications at SAP and Editor-in-Chief of SAP’s Global Partner Update newsfeed. She is a former journalist with vast experience in channel marketing, public relations, and executive communications for high-tech companies like Tech Data and CA.

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