The User's Voice Counts

Looks like there is no doubt about the fact, that integrating the crowd into research and development activities is one key for success, to deliver successful innovations to the market. But who is the crowd?

Well, during the last years working for SAP SE I experienced a lot of different flavors with regards to crowdsourcing.

First of all there are the customers – most important the end users - who are at the end, using SAP business solutions to accomplish their daily tasks. Ideally their voices are heard at a very early stage already and continuously integrated along the product lifecycle. But how do you set up a community successfully? What are the motivators and how do you keep it up and running? Today’s technology offer a boundless support respective crowdsourcing activities – whether it is the platform to build a community or the tools to evaluate the content and to motivate the members to continue their activities – there are no limits.

Secondly, there is the SAP ecosystem. Partner play a major role as multiplier and offer access to customers as their trusted advisor. It is therefore extremely important to invite them also to crowdsourcing activities to collect the customer voices. In addition, partner play a major role with regards to Co-Innovation activities – on one hand they contribute with their skills and experience, on the other hand they can receive early knowledge about new developments.

Thirdly, there are more than 70,000 smart and creative employees with very innovative ideas. This crowd is extremely valuable not only to improve internal processes to reduce complexity, which is the biggest enemy to bring innovations on the road. Furthermore they also have incredible ideas to develop new solutions, which they might not be able to propose properly during their daily workday. So, driving internal campaigns to leverage intrapreneur programs are anchored as inherent part of the company’s innovation strategy. The target is to find the best ideas and foster the development of new solutions to bring value to customers.

So let’s assume you have established an open innovation platform to collaborate with your customers, partners and employees to find new ideas – is this all you need to drive innovations successfully? Doesn’t this sound easy?

Well, yes it almost is as easy as it sounds – but looking closer at a number of companies there is a significant distinction between those, who claim that they drive open innovation and others who take it even more serious.

The latter ensure that the company’s DNA is ready for it – ready to consume the feedback and ideas in a professional way:

  • It all starts with an innovation strategy, influenced by multiple factors and supported by executive management, to allow open innovation to its full extend.
  • To ensure that innovation involves all employees, management should foster a culture that promotes values and norms that encourage innovation behavior across the organization.
  • Last but not least, new methodologies, such as Design Thinking and Business Model Development are extremely helpful to enable employees to think differently. Take into account how mature your company from a digitization perspective is and redesign your business model in iterations to make your customers – based on their ideas – happy customers!

Are you curious to hear more? I will talk about my experience in more detail at Crowdopolis XV.


Tatjana Walter
Author: Tatjana WalterWebsite:
VP P&I Innovation Services @ SAP
After more than 20 years of experience in IT, for me crowdsourcing is not just a buzzword and far more than a tool – it is a success factor to bring innovations on the road.

Tags: Innovation, , SAP, Strategy