SAP in 2010 launched an open innovation space as a response to customers’ desire to become more involved the direction of product offering. After the SAP Community Network (SCN) site success a new site positioned as central space for enterprise software enhance submission was launched. A platform called SAP “Idea Space”. The Idea Place website provided SAP customers an online suggestion platform replacing the tedious manual methods to submit suggestions and SAP with a flexible, scalable and transparent management tool.
Figure 1: Crowd-sourcing Ideas (Ideas.SAP.com)
In the 2 years after the initial pilot, Idea Place generated:
- 8,700+ Submitted Ideas
- 9,000+ Comments
- 53,000+ Votes
- 380+ Delivered Features
- 260+ Ideas in Development
During those initial years SAP learnt from the Ideas Space site and feedback from the User community. Initially, not all products were available for contribution and the site focused on product enhancements. Customers were uncertain were to pose suggestions and what channel should be used. The Idea Place evolved providing an enhanced social experience and a significant improvement in ability of stakeholders to interact with ideas. The Ideas Place team redefined the ideation process, working with product/solution managers pushing to create higher quality ideas, increased voting, greater transparency of review timings, internal priorities and communicate status of ideas submissions.
The most significant change to the initiative was to openly change the focus to target break-through innovation rather than enhancements. Several challenges needed addressing including:
- Idea Place will never contain all SAP products/solutions,
- Many channels existed for submitting enhancement requests
- Idea Place is to provide disruptive innovation via break through ideas
- Need to reach out to new audiences not traditionally connected with SAP
Hence, Idea Place shifted from an enterprise enhancement submission site to a collection of individualized innovation campaigns. The focus became campaign based with a unique experience, navigation and processes specific for each product. Each campaign objective would vary depending on the need of the product/solution, some remaining enhancement orientated and others defined to invoke disruptive innovation.
“With this release, Idea Place is a step closer to reaching the vision of providing disruptive innovation through break through ideas, reaching out to new audiences and connecting with audiences that SAP has traditionally not connected with before,” Matt Johnson IV, VP SAP Marketing press release 2013
As noted previously, SAP understood if submissions were not managed customers may feel ignored. Therefore, guidelines were introduced to minimise opportunities for ideas falling into a void. As the Ideas Place project grew some campaigns matched customer expectation better highlighting improvements were required. Hence SAP revisited each campaign ensuring submitted ideas were all addressed and provided clarity on status of submitted ideas. The renewed focus on the innovation programme defined processes for product management teams to analyze ideas, rank by number of votes and alignment with product direction, feasibility, and business benefit (strategic fit). Procedures ensure that products will not be listed within the Idea Place unless corresponding product management team agrees to monitor, evaluate, and respond to ideas accordingly.
The early years yielded low quality ideas, duplication and similar ideas therefore many ideas were not progressed, having a negatively impact customer experience and perceived throughput of ideas. The new 2013 platform, automatic responses to ideas were implemented providing education on submission quality, accompanied by early product managers’ feedback to assist submitters with increasing value of ideas and likelihood for consideration.
To further support quality submissions the review criteria was made explicit and transparent. Defining factors considered when they are being considered, including number of votes required for consideration. Moreover, other members could comment on, add to, or vote on ideas to enhance quality of submissions. Throughout the process, SAP product teams give status updates and explanations to ensure transparency.
The new platform categorised ideas within a topic or a community posed question, the social media tools were enhanced to encourage further the socialisation. Understanding required vote count required Idea submitters could connect and leverage other channels to enhance or further define the ideas.