SAP sharpens APAC research focus with new Singapore facility

Software giant rolls outs the repositioning of its research facilities with Singapore, focusing on areas such as co-innovation and commercializing business opportunities.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

SINGAPORE--German software giant SAP officially opened its SAP Next Business and Technology Research Center in Singapore, which marks the first of the company's refreshed research and development (R&D) centers globally.

"While SAP continues to do applied research, that's no longer all we do. We want to clearly signal [that our focus] is end-to-end, from applied research which is the technology infrastructure to the application layer, and to commercialization, said Jason Yotopoulos, executive vice president and head of SAP Global Research and Business Incubation during the opening ceremony here Monday.

Singapore kicks off new R&D focus

Singapore is actually the first rebranded R&D center globally for SAP, with a focus on four main research areas. SAP currently has 21 research facilities worldwide.
The center will serve as the R&D headquarters in Asia-Pacific--first announced in January last year. R&D staff previously worked mostly at SAP Singapore's main office and regional headquarters, and only recently moved into the new and dedicated premises.
The country was picked to start the rollout because it is a strategic innovation hub which SAP wants to leverage for the Asia-Pacific region and extend its footprint. Other reasons included the availability as well as grooming of top local talent.
The Singapore R&D unit at present has around 30 staff, and headcount is expected to triple by 2014. Other R&D centers in the Asia-Pacific are in Australia, India and China.

Previously called SAP Research, the R&D unit is now redubbed SAP Next Business and Technology to reflect an increased focus on thought leadership and business influence of the company's products, Yotopoulous added.

He added the new direction would help better create new businesses and make its offerings more relevant for local markets.

Focus on technology-enabled businesses
Innovation originating from Asia-Pacific is critical for SAP, said the executive.

"We can't simply take something from [the labs] in Europe and the United States and then apply that in Asia. There's a unique texture of opportunities [in this region]," he added. For instance, in emerging economies such as India, mobile point of sales (POS) solutions are created to help digitize mom-and-pop shops in rural areas as opposed to large retail outlets.

Yotopoulos pointed out that the Singapore R&D center will focus on four key areas that indicate multi-disciplinary expertise and have been identified to hold significant opportunities in the country.

The first is the real-time intelligent economy, which looks at data mining and analytics as well as sensor and machine data with SAP's BusinessObjects and Hana appliance.

The second is social business networks, which focuses on how businesses can better engage with customers and leverages the cloud and social technological assets of Ariba and SuccessFactors--which SAP previously acquired this year and in 2011 respectively.

The third area is the Co-Innovation Lab, said Yotopoulos. This essentially serves as a "petri dish" for SAP's partners to collaborate and build onto the company's "plethora of technologies" and expertise to eliminate roadblocks in the way of improving their business. For instance, a gaming company can improve its revenue by tapping real-time business analytics when monitoring the gameplay of heavy gamers. So at the relevant moments, it can offer the appropriate virtual goods to these players.

Finally, the fourth area is the SAP Global Business Incubator, which reflects SAP's "entrepreneurial way of doing things", and in particular the company's commitment to "evangelize" the startup community in Singapore.

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