Trying to work collaboratively with partners and customers is increasingly less of a novelty. Unfortunately, it’s still not as usual to do it continuously and methodologically, using proper software and hardware tools to truly leverage knowledge and experience. Sometimes, the mere existence of a dedicated facility can make the difference. SAP Co-Innovation Lab (COIL) is an interesting example of open innovation that have found a way to integrate hardware and software innovation in a way that is open, but also protective of intellectual property.
The SAP Co-Innovation Lab offers a portfolio of co-innovation enablement services. To facilitate quick time to start development, it offers a cloud-based infrastructure platform that enables the company to provide project participants with co-innovative project design, as well as IT resources to fully provision all SAP software landscapes and key partner components.
SAP is organized to work with an abundance of partners, customers, universities, governments, standardization groups, and others. The lab enables everything from strategic alliance initiatives to key proofs of concept of interoperability, integration, or performance of new ecosystem-based solutions. These may encompass analytics, in-memory computing, cloud, security, and enterprise mobility.
COIL ‘s success is probably due mainly to how the partners have managed the technical, human, and organizational dimensions of the innovation process.The physical structure of the COIL facility allows the organization to install relevant hardware and software in a collaborative environment. It also provides a modular co-working area for the most intensive portions of the collaboration where face-to-face interaction is required, and a showcase area where customers can come and see the joint result. Successful project outcomes can immediately gain recognition from the demos and showcasing that the lab offers. Joint achievements are ultimately packaged and showcased on a broad scale in COIL facilities, events, SAP Community Network, and more. Also, the organizational infrastructure lets the companies start with a framework intellectual property arrangement.
SAP worked with founding sponsors Cisco, HP, Intel and NetApp to set up the initial co-innovation laboratory at SAP’s Palo Alto, CA. facility. Now, there are also COIL facilities in Tokyo, Bangalore, São Paulo, Walldorf (Germany), Moscow, Zurich and Shangai, each of them with specifics strenghs besides serving needs of local markets.
Describing SAP Co-Innovation Lab, David Cruickshank, director, explains: “COIL is a unique approach. Even a company the size of SAP can gain value from co-innovating with partners and customers through trust and open innovation. The key takeaway is that this is not ad hoc collaborative innovation. It is a formal approach calling on the appropriate business units and team members of all involved companies in a well-considered strategy”.