In June 2019, SAP introduced the next era of innovation in its Walldorf headquarters — a dedicated, consciously designed, state-of-the-art innovation space that includes showcases that are relevant for each SAP visitor (both customers and partners) and that encompass the entire SAP portfolio as well as the lines of business, industries, and markets served by SAP. The new experience center strategy brings forth a novel vision — one that delivers global consistency and high relevance in a sustainable manner. The inaugural SAP Leonardo Experience Center in Walldorf is the first to open worldwide, with additional centers coming over the next several quarters.
“SAP is committed to taking experience management to the next level,” says Alison Biggan, President, SAP Corporate Marketing. “This first SAP Leonardo Experience Center, at the SAP headquarters in Walldorf, is representative of that. We are crafting an end-to-end innovation journey dedicated to what our customers want and expect from SAP.”
SAP’s experience center strategy covers and combines all visitor touchpoints and experiences with SAP, representing the learnings and best practices accumulated over nearly 50 years of receiving, hosting, and engaging customers worldwide. “As poet John Keats wrote, ‘Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced,’ and we rally around this idea,” adds Bjoern Ganzhorn, SVP, eXperience SAP. “We are dedicated to combining the newest insights from the experience economy into an SAP-infused, curated customer experience intended to ignite and drive innovation.” (See the “What’s Revolutionary About the New SAP Leonardo Experience Centers?” sidebar for more details on the new center’s features.)
Innovate from the Outside-In
SAP Leonardo Experience Centers are intentionally designed to help customers rethink and reimagine their business stories, from the outside-in, and innovate on behalf of their customers and employees. “Today, a company’s customer experience can mark the success or failure of their organization,” says Biggan. “SAP Leonardo Experience Centers provide SAP customers a place where they can reinvent their product offerings, and ultimately, drive more meaningful connections with their customers.”
Each center will offer dedicated physical spaces mapping a customer’s engagement and innovation journey where various SAP teams, technologies, and know-how are orchestrated toward a customer-tailored experience. The dedicated SAP center teams and the account teams curate personalized visits based on specific customer needs. This includes bringing in experts to deepen conversations, demonstrating live showcases to stimulate the imagination, and facilitating engagement models to bring these concepts to life.
SAP Leonardo Experience Center visitors experience how the latest SAP technology and business solutions — coupled with technologies such as blockchain, Internet of Things, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and analytics — can make their reimagined business stories a reality. “We are not looking to just drive volume or have quick shop-talk technology conversations, but rather, we want to facilitate the right engagements,” says Joachim von Goetz, VP and Head of SAP Experience Center Strategy. “We have an opportunity to craft the showcases, demonstrations, and the overall experience to help SAP customers reinvent themselves and best leverage technology in support of their commercial journeys. SAP Leonardo Experience Centers do not just facilitate, but fuel, this transformational journey.”
The centers provide “a gravitational pull” to start new conversations, accelerate existing SAP engagements, or embrace completely new technologies and solutions to seize new market opportunities and business models, according to von Goetz. They offer an environment for customers and partners to test out solutions and ask any and all questions pertinent for them. The center, with dedicated staff, works to simplify complexity given the breadth of SAP’s products and solutions portfolio.
Curating Consistent, Relevant, End-to-End Experiences — Meet, Inspire, and Engage
No matter where they are in the world, customers visiting SAP Leonardo Experience Centers will find the same consistent experience, curated from the beginning through the end for them. The experience center strategy defines and adheres to consistent design principles — what SAP calls its experience center pillars — that consider people, facility, process, and content to ensure global harmonization.
For example, to ensure the physical space is harmonized, the design for each center follows a defined facility guide describing in detail the different rooms and spaces available. There is an idealized floorplan so that customers have the best possible experience during their visits. The aim is to map the innovation process that customers go through with SAP while also helping them to naturally navigate through the physical space. In this way, visitors immediately know where they are within their innovation journey and exactly where they go next. The same guidance is provided for people (staffing, roles, and activities); content (showcases, messaging, demos, and templates); and processes (tools, repositories, and best practices) across the centers.
The end-to-end customer journey at all SAP Leonardo Experience Centers can be simplified into three holistic phases — meet, inspire, and engage — that combine into one seamless experience under which SAP clusters all the interactions and touchpoints:
- Meet: Customers meet SAP executives and solution experts to jumpstart, rethink, and/or accelerate their SAP innovation journeys.
- Inspire: Customers are inspired by the latest experiential showcases, innovative demos, and immersive stories about new business models and related solutions relevant for their business.
- Engage: Customers can advance their transformation and innovation SAP journey in hands-on, collaborative workshops including building iterative protypes of “what could be.”
By making innovation tangible and future scenarios visible, SAP customers and partners can experience how to solve today’s business challenges and jointly create the future. Following its experience center strategy, SAP provides targeted services to kickstart, drive, and accelerate a customer’s digital innovation journey. “While this general flow — meet, inspire, engage — is representative of any visit at any center, there’s no set time frame for how long visits last,” says Brigitte Collins, eXperience SAP VP, SAP Leonardo Experience Centers. “Some visits happen over one or two days, some over the course of a week, and most often customers will reengage over time. In fact, for the best outcome, we encourage a customer or partner to come back to collaborate, whether at the center or elsewhere. The goal is to encourage and foster long-term engagements.”
The meet, inspire, and engage phases reflect the innovation journey that customers overall have with SAP. This means there is always a first meeting, followed by a discussion around pain points and possible actions, and ultimately leading to a point where a customer wants a credible and tangible result. Because SAP continually introduces technologies and new solutions, the meet, inspire, and engage phases can also be cyclical. “Naturally, when customers come back with new business requirements, they again meet, enter the inspire area — updated with new and relevant showcases — and engage with new products and experts,” says Collins. “In this way, we create an innovation loop, which essentially never ends, and we establish partnerships that sustain over many years.”
Global Consistency, Local Relevance
What SAP wants to achieve is a high-value end-to-end journey for every single customer in any location worldwide. This means that the overall engagement, showcases, content, and visit experience are consistent while also maintaining high relevance. To achieve this consistently on a global scale, it must be sustainable — meaning SAP can easily transfer and distribute messaging, physical showcases, and any other digital content to locations while considering local and customer relevancy. To achieve such relevancy, SAP must blend to the local business environment and culture. For instance, the look and feel of the mix-and-mingle networking space called a “coffee corner” in Germany would look more like a “tea corner” in Japan. From a showcase perspective, a mining scenario is likely more appropriate for a center located in Johannesburg, South Africa, than for New York, USA.
To achieve this relevancy, local SAP teams dedicate and transform the entire center to reflect the priorities and needs of the visiting customers. “This is how we achieve global harmonization while meeting the local business requirements, which is at the heart of SAP’s experience center strategy,” says von Goetz. “We empower local center teams to bring in their cultural flavor and personalize on behalf of a customer while staying true to the global strategy. Previously, such customization, if feasible, took days. Now it takes hours to personalize across all phases and all pillars.”
A Global Rollout Is Under Way
The flagship center in Walldorf has been officially open for over a month (at the time of this writing), and SAP is currently transforming a handful of centers across the globe, with the next location set to open in Tokyo, Japan, in Q3 2019. SAP will open additional centers under the new strategy in 2019 in the US, EMEA, and Asia, with more centers expected to open during 2020 and beyond. “SAP is proud to launch and now scale our experience center strategy,” says Ganzhorn. “This strategy is a true reflection of SAP’s DNA and rich heritage to support our customers on their journeys to become intelligent enterprises.”
For an inside look at the flagship experience center now open in Walldorf, watch this video. Customers and partners wanting to learn more about the SAP Leonardo Experience Center strategy can contact their account executive or partner manager, respectively, for more details or to schedule a visit.