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SAP Startup Focus program brings new HANA-based applications to market

SAP's Startup Focus program provides startup companies that use SAP HANA technology with business and technical resources; SAP touts HANA Cloud Platform adoption.

Every startup struggles with technical issues and business credibility, and the survival rate is not great. But for a growing number of startups using SAP HANA technology, the survival odds may be improved considerably with the help of the SAP Startup Focus program, which provides vital technical and business resources to startups. SAP is picky about who can join the program, but once in, it can be a huge boost for a small company.

The SAP Startup Focus program currently has about 3,500 startups that have signed on and 850 that are in the process of developing products, according to Manju Bansal, SAP vice president and global head of SAP Startup Focus. There are 225 fully validated applications available now.

The program is intended to bring innovative applications to the market and grow adoption for the HANA platform, Bansal said, because every startup has to build on HANA or use HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) as the underlying data platform.

The fact that only one quarter of the companies have gone from signing up to developing applications indicates the program is applying stringent technical and business standards to the startups, Bansal explained. The goal is to make sure the startups are fully prepared before they go to market, and to be ready to enter the enterprise sales cycle.

"Our objective with the program is very simple -- there's external innovation that's happening in the startup community, and there's innovation demand that our large customers are looking for,” Bansal said. "But a Procter & Gamble or a Chevron is not likely to buy from a 20-person company; that's not how these guys work, so we've become the bridge that connects those two."

The startups don't just walk into a meeting with an enterprise-level prospect, however.

"Once these guys build and validate a solution, we certify it to make sure that it does what it says it will do, and then we put them through the ringer for what we call value engineering and market readiness," Bansal explained. "They may have this ready, but do they have the assets, the positioning, messaging, thought leadership -- everything they need before they can be exposed to the enterprise sales cycle? I need to get these startups prepped and ready to show to my SAP colleagues, and for the handful that get the most traction, we'll physically walk them in and co-sell deals with SAP field sales guys."

The program also makes sure the applications are technically sound by validating them through the SAP Innovation Control Center. "We make sure that the app uses the right HANA angles; all the data that it generates is validated by some other algorithm that it's correct and is not made up," Bansal said. "If you're putting it in the hands of a customer, the last thing you want is an escalation call that said, 'This startup messed up' -- that's just not going to work."

The startups in the program are found in a variety of ways. Some apply on their own, while some are actively recruited by SAP on its own or through partnerships or contacts with startup accelerators and incubators. Some of the recruits have technology that falls into niche areas where SAP cannot or doesn't want to go.

One of the companies that filled a niche is FogHorn Systems, a Mountain View, Calif., startup that provides edge intelligence software for industrial and commercial internet of things applications, based on SAP HANA Cloud Platform. This allows the vast amounts of data collected by IoT sensors to be processed and analyzed at the edge, or before it goes to cloud servers.

FogHorn's edge capability is more robust than what SAP HANA has, said FogHorn's David Canavan, making it a perfect candidate for the SAP Startup Focus program.

"The Startup Focus goes out and recruits partners like us to fill in the white space and stuff that SAP might not have much of; they can do edge analytics, but probably not to the extent that we can do it," Canavan said. "As far as the partnership goes -- and I've seen good ones and bad -- these guys are really good. They've got an executive briefing center in Palo Alto, [Calif.], and whenever they have an industrial customer come in, they give us an hour in a three-day agenda where we come in and we tell the guys what we do."

The marketing opportunity is extremely important for a small startup, and helped FogHorn acquire GE as a customer and seed other deals. "They've brought us into four huge opportunities already in a very short period of time," Canavan said. "As opposed to a lot of partner programs, they're actually going out and creating end-user opportunities for us. I've run big partner programs before, and I like this a lot."

SAP touts increased adoption for HANA Cloud Platform

SAP HANA Cloud Platform is gaining in adoption as a platform as a service for SAP applications by SAP customers and partners.

Companies that have chosen HCP as their platform include Owens-Illinois Inc., ZS Associates Inc., Pacific Drilling Services Inc. and Barry Callebaut, the company announced at the SAPinsider event held in Vienna, Austria, June 20 to 22. They are using SAP HCP to extend existing on-premises and cloud applications, integrate cloud applications and build new HANA-based applications.

The announcement comes on the heels of the new version of SAP HCP, which has new features, including an API hub, prebuilt extensions for applications based on S/4HANA, partner-built line-of-business and mobile applications, and an enhanced extension package for HCP-based extensions for SuccessFactors.

These new features are helping customers to become more digital organizations, according to SAP.

"These organizations are developing real-time applications via SAP HANA Cloud Platform to compete and win in the digital economy," said Steve Lucas, SAP president of enterprise platform group, in a press release. "New features in SAP HANA Cloud Platform that support trusted identity management across multiple cloud and on-premises environments, application access governance, a common user experience and automatic provisioning of business services from our cloud platform enable customers to run their businesses easily and seamlessly, all from their phone with next-generation apps."

Here are some examples of these benefits, according to SAP:

  • Owens-Illinois, the world's leading glass packaging manufacturer, integrated a cloud e-invoicing system built on HCP with its on-premises SAP ERP application to comply with Peruvian tax authority requirements. Owens-Illinois became fully compliant within a few weeks, allowing it to expand its Latin American operations. 
  • SAP HCP is allowing Pacific Drilling, a global ultra-deepwater and gas drilling services firm, to deliver mobile SAP Fiori apps to remote workers, replacing portal-based applications. The company claims it can deliver new mobile apps in 75% shorter timelines by running the Fiori apps on HCP.
  • ZS Associates, a global sales and marketing firm, is extending its SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central application by deploying Accenture HR Audit and Compliance as a service on HCP. This means it can perform immediate and ongoing data auditing, which enables it to see errors or find missing information in real time.
  • Barry Callebaut, a leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolates and cocoa products, uses SAP Rural Sourcing Management, an HCP-based mobile and desktop application, to integrate 65,000 small-scale cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire. It tracks produce from farm to factory, improving the sustainability of the supply chain.

Next Steps

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