SAP Expands Innovation in Israel
SAP’s startup program SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv, which enjoys the backing and support of SAP R&D Center Israel, completed its first successful cohort
In 2019, at the opening of SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv, Orna Kleinmann, Managing Director of SAP R&D Center in Israel , announced that "The SAP.iO Foundry, an in-residence acceleration program, will broaden the way SAP, a market leader in the enterprise application software arena, will cooperate with Israeli startups".
The goal of SAP.iO is to expand the way SAP works with early stage startups in order to create an innovation ecosystem for SAP’s customers. At the end of the program’s first year of operations, the vision is coming to fruition and the program already boasts six startups that benefit from it — access to the unique consultancy of experts at SAP R&D Center in Israel, exposure to SAP’s software interfaces in the fields of software and technology, and an opportunity to partner with the company’s customers worldwide.
SAP R&D Center in Israel recently hosted Ram Jambunathan in his new role as Head of Corporate Strategy at SAP. In a conversation, Jambunathan stated that SAP.iO Foundry Tel-Aviv is a world-level center of innovation that enables SAP to provide its customers with an exceptional competitive edge in a variety of fields. He further states that Israel provides the ultimate platform for a successful startup program — both in terms of the support provided by the R&D Center in Israel, the wide customer base available in Israel, and by virtue of the innovation that is inherently part of the Israeli culture.
The Center in Israel, headed by Kleinmann, is spearheading the development of SAP’s cloud platform, and its big advantage is in the wide-ranging coverage of all business management applications and the integration between them.
Orna, how do you summarize the management of the labs so far, and how important is working with startup companies at such early stages?
Firstly, there is such satisfaction in looking back at the starting point, at the way we have come and the results we have achieved. As someone who has been doing this for 15 years, I certainly enjoy every moment.
SAP currently has 20 global research and development centers (which we call LABS), but in Israel we created a unique combination of activities. It is not just a large R&D center, but also a branch of local sales, varied business partnerships, and a widespread activity of mergers and acquisitions. In the past year these many operations gained another, the SAP.iO Foundry TLV accelerator.
Thanks to a combination of all of those, we succeed in bringing unique value to a multinational company the size of SAP and make a significant contribution to both the products and the innovation process that is the heart and soul of the company.
For the companies that get accepted into the SAP.iO Foundry Tel-Aviv, it constitutes as a unique opportunity to enjoy access to resources such as technical experts and mentors, and support in connecting to SAP's customers, all of which enable these companies to leverage their operations based on the newly gained insights. On our side, there is a unique capability generated to make the innovation that answers the biggest challenges of our customers accessible.
Which operations do you consider as being a success of SAP R&D Center in Israel, and of yourself specifically?
First and foremost, the ability to connect our R&D with the Israeli ecosystem and bring back the value of this unique connection to SAP’s headquarters, alongside with all the innovative values it carries. To me, SAP’s Israeli development center is much more than just 800 programmers. We have our unique spirit, innovation, daring, entrepreneurship… and we leverage and empower all these things every single day. I believe this is one of the main reasons that people enjoy working with us so much. They receive a real opportunity to bring a wide range of their abilities to the table and can see how those abilities are realized within applications, products, and experiences that the entire world uses and enjoys.
The establishment of the Foundry is closing the circle for me. It not only enables me to support Israeli companies that are just starting out and help local entrepreneurs realize a vision of innovation; it also enables the realization of our mission as a center that acts as a real lighthouse for a multinational company with locations all over the world. It really is a feeling of gratitude and pride.
Beyond that, we are ranked in fourth place on BDI Coface's list of best software companies to work for in Israel, and that is certainly a big compliment to us. There are over 300 development centers in Israel today and the ability to stand out and lead in such a competitive environment is not inconsequential.
I am very proud of our pleasant, supportive company culture, and of the employees’ ability to grow and develop within the company with time and constantly surprise with their innovation and determination to stand out in the large global company we are a part of. They are really the best in their field. People who prove every single day that this is an advanced, mature, and globally leading development center.
Which local startup companies succeeded in getting past your selection system?
There are currently six Israeli startups included in the first cohort of SAP.iO Foundry Tel-Aviv. As we have said, our goal as a foundry is to provide support and assistance to early stage startups in the fields of B2B and software build, which would provide SAP’s customers with significant value.
For example, the startup company EasySend assists companies in the finance industry improve customer experience and increase operational efficiency using a simple cloud interface (see additional company details in the box).
Local pride and global recognition
“A look at SAP’s history clearly shows that innovation is the reason for its continued success over the years,” Jambunathan said. “We want to ensure that this ability will continue and broaden. That is why SAP.iO Foundry was founded, with a focus on early stage innovation as a viewpoint that builds on our traditional investment in innovative companies that are at more mature stages of solutions. This approach vastly expands the scale of the innovation we provide our customers and enables us to provide futuristic abilities in fields such as Customer Experience, Supply Chain, IoT, Machine Learning, and more.”
“We have other similar programs across the world, and Israel is one of the most important ones. The Israeli center succeeded in creating an impressive ecosystem around SAP’s solutions, maintaining an ability to provide a unique innovative solution to some of the most significant challenges our customers face. The fact that we are willing to work with such early stage startups at our foundry enables us to attract a very wide range of companies and be exposed to innovative and unusual ideas to meet the challenges of the future.”
What is Israel’s uniqueness among SAP’s other global foundry programs?
“It begins with the customers themselves, who impress us over and over again with their willingness to try and adopt innovative solutions, and ends with the huge mass of local startups and entrepreneurs that are inspirational not just in their innovation, but in their ability and readiness to bring their ideas to fruition at a faster pace than in any other place in the world. There is no doubt that the Startup Nation moniker that Israel enjoys globally was rightfully earned. There is an entrepreneurship spirit here that is amazing on any global scale”.
What is SAP’s global strategy on the issue?
“The objective is to realize the customer experience vision in any way possible. Customers are no longer looking for just another product. They are looking for an experience. Therefore, our entire strategy is based on the ability to provide a variety of solutions that boost the successful customer experience. The ability to understand what customers say, or more importantly, what they think and don’t say, is one of the main aims of our activity and our constant investment in any solutions that could improve that ability. This is expressed in solutions that are more innovative than ever for analyzing the mountains of data our systems compile and transfer and for granting the ability to make operative decisions that provide forecasts, management, efficiency, and of course a better customer experience.”
The six startups chosen for SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv’s first cohort:
EasySend helps companies in the financial industry improve customer experience and increase operational efficiency. EasySend’s simple cloud interface enables companies to create efficient digital processes for their customers.
ARpalus helps retailers and manufacturers with shelf and stock management in brick and mortar stores by collecting and processing data in real time at the sale points using artificial intelligence, image processing, and augmented reality technologies.
GrowthSpace aims to replace traditional learning and development systems by creating 1Xmany, an online platform for employee and vendor instruction. Users have one-on-one training with coaches via video sessions suited to their career needs.
Outgage is a marketing SaaS company that provides a framework for campaign management using postal mail to bridge the gap between online and offline, to create a personalized brand experience and an efficient dialogue between a company and its customers.
Silverback provides e-commerce companies with an AI-driven platform for decision making in the online sales domain and displays within the best performing products and most competitive prices, and also performs sale-promotion automation.
YOUTILIGENT operates in the IoT industry using machine learning technologies. It enables vendors and service providers to make real time data-based decisions in order to improve the way they communicate with consumers, and aims to solve various challenges in the delivery, consumption, and maintenance industries using its Connected Customer Solution.
For more information on SAP.iO Foundry Tel-Aviv click here