As digital transformation sweeps through industries of all types, the SAP Apphaus scheme has been created to help firms develop more innovative approaches to how they do business

SAP Apphaus

The SAP Apphaus network (Credit: SAP)

Speaking at the TechEd conference in Barcelona this week, SAP global head of customer innovation gave an insight into the technology company’s Apphaus project — an initiative designed to help firms become more innovative in a digital environment.


Industries across the spectrum are hurtling towards a digital future characterised by rapid innovation and fleet-footed acceptance of new ways of doing business.

Many organisations, particularly those which have grown and matured in the pre-digital era, are now seeking out ways to develop a fresh approach — but it is not an easy transition to make when saddled with legacy systems, established processes and a settled workforce.

That is why German technology giant SAP has created the Apphaus network – an initiative designed to help businesses satisfy creative needs by advising and developing innovative corporate projects based on data insights.

The idea is to encourage an “innovation culture” within organisations seeking to adapt to the modern digital environment – while attracting new customers and learning a thing or two about innovation itself along the way.

“When we work together with customers it is not the usual office set-up,” explains SAP head of customer innovation Anja Schneider.

“We work in a different style, provide different kinds of perspectives and bring different people together to nurture the real topics of interest for customers to really start their journey.

Digital transformation is a no-brainer – everybody knows it is happening.

“But the next question is how to deal with it – where to start, how to be agile and how to create projects that could be integrated into the backbone of a company.”


SAP Apphaus network has a global reach

The Apphaus network comprises five global locations run directly by SAP – in Palo Alto, New York, Heidelberg, Berlin and Seoul – as well as a number of partner projects in regions including Bangalore, Calgary, Madrid and Melbourne.

SAP invites firms looking to modernise their work culture and processes to visit these Apphaus premises and embark on a creative “design thinking” journey intended to reconfigure preconceived notions and infuse teams with a spirit of innovation.

Collectively, the global initiative has already attracted around 60,000 visitors, run 2,000 workshops and helped more than 1,000 customers get their creative juices flowing.

sap apphaus
SAP Apphaus encourages a creative environment (Credit: SAP)

The likes of US retail giant Costco, UK car manufacturer Rolls Royce, the Women’s Tennis Association and German chemicals producer BASF are among those to have embraced the Apphaus programme as they seek to prepare for a digital future.

SAP itself benefits from the scheme, by finding new ways to engage with existing and prospective customers while also taking inspiration from some of the innovative ideas and processes cultivated through it.

SAP Apphaus helps businesses get started on the road to transformation

As more and more firms come to the conclusion that digital transformation is now a case of when, not if, taking the first steps down the path of transition can prove to be the most difficult.

“Change is happening – I think that’s clear,” says Schneider. “And the big question when we speak to customers is ‘where do we start?’.

“It might be a case of optimising existing processes or extending them.

“Or the ultimate perspective is transforming the processes – coming to a completely new business model and transforming the business overall.

“But we don’t have a business model generator – we can’t push a button and say ‘hey, here’s your new business’.

“It’s a question of conversation – and over time you bring people together from all levels and find your own new business model.”

sap apphaus
SAP Apphaus is an attempt to educate customers on the value of innovation culture (Credit: SAP)


SAP Apphaus encourages people not to be afraid of failure

One significant aspect of nurturing a more innovative culture within an organisation is convincing workers to get over their fear of failure.

Schneider says: “It often starts with user experience innovation – but we also look at business processes, business models and establishing an innovation culture.

“Establishing a culture in which it is okay if projects fail – because in many cases you will find that the outcome is not viable – even if we can do it technically.

“That is part of the process and part of the culture that you need to establish – not only with the right set of places and spaces, but also with the right leadership team and people driving the process.

“Technology is the surrounding factor of an innovation culture – but overall it’s about people, place, process and leadership.”