The first ever SAP Startup Forum Paris was held earlier this month. The event brought together the best and brightest of France’s enterprise startups to show off their products and expertise. The different companies outlined their innovations in short, focused presentations and shared reactions and ideas with SAP developers in a warm, club-like atmosphere.
Flush with the success of HANA, the company’s innovative in-memory database, SAP has expanded the offer into a complete, real-time data management platform, and is aggressively courting developers and investing millions in startups to create new “game-changing” business applications – especially in the enterprise.
Venture capitalist Jim Goetz recently expressed his shock and frustration that startups were ignoring a $500 billion market, and SAP’s position as the clear leader in enterprise software applications makes it an obvious partner for success.
Here’s an overview of the SAP Startup Program, including Ray Lane, and Scott McNealy, with some of the startups that have already “graduated”, including these great quotes:
“When we started working with SAP HANA, we began on a Monday, and we had our project completed by the end of the week” – Lou Leporace, Next Principles
“Use HANA – but don’t tell Larry I told you so… Go HANA!” Scott McNealy
As part of a series of Startup Forum events worldwide, the Paris session was hosted by Chahab Nastar, Vice President, Advanced Development at SAP. SAP has a large Paris-based analytics development and research organization, based on the historic analytics development teams of BusinessObjects, the analytics leader that SAP acquired in 2007.
The day kicked off with presentations from SAP representatives. Sophie Chou, the Global Director of SAP Startup Forums worldwide, outlining the three themes characterizing SAP’s commitment to providing support for startup companies: “innovation, communication, and transformation.”
She cited a quote from Vishal Sikka, SAP CTO and Member of the SAP Executive Board about the importance of the company’s transformation:
“The biggest thing we have learned in our 40 years as an enterprise applications company is that there are not enough applications in the world and that the problem is looking for imagination far beyond the walls of SAP to the collective imagination of all of us.”
Chou then outlined the different types and levels of support offered to startups, including: free software development licenses; in-depth training, support, and certification; OEM and go-to-market collaboration; and direct investment from the SAP Ventures fund.
Thierry Pierre, Director of Business Development, SAP France, explained the high-level benefits of the new HANA technology, and why it had been such a success with customers looking for solutions beyond traditional disk-based relational database systems. Mokrane Amzal, a Software Architect at SAP Labs France, then went into more technical details of of the HANA architecture and its benefits for companies needing fast, flexible data access.
Laurent Bride, Senior Vice President Advanced Development at SAP, finished the morning’s sessions with a talk about the deep connections between SAP, startup culture, and analytics, notably thanks to the team’s BusinessObjects origins, and pointed to SAP’s France’s ongoing leading role in advanced analytics research.
After lunch, the startups each had six short minutes to explain their company and products.
By the end of the day, several general themes emerged as to how the companies were using analytics and big data to revolutionize a product or service:
Gathering And Presenting New Data In New Ways
Expanding beyond traditional analytics was a big theme of the attendees’ presentations. The startups proposed various solution for better access to more varied source of data required for decision making:
- AMI software: Structured and unstructured competitive and market intelligence.
- Data Publica: Custom and off-the-shelf complex datasets
- Qunb: Fast facts from a wide variety of data providers
- Sinequa: Unified search access across structured and unstructured data
And proposed new ways of accessing and manipulating existing data sources:
- BIME: Connect to an analyze data in the cloud
- Captain Dash: Intuitive mobile marketing dashboards
- KXEN: Productive predictive analytic
- WriteThat.Name offered an application to keep your personal or corporate address books up-to-date automatically.
Retail Optimization Tools
The retail industry was particularly well-represented, with a wide variety of new technologies designed to help optimize the shopping experience.
Some startups proposed services to iteratively analyze and optimize the customer retail experiences on web sites or in real-world stores:
- AB Tasty: Tools to iteratively optimize web site design
- Cliris: Tracking devices and analysis technology to analyze real-world store behavior
- Insydelabs: Advanced tools to track and analyze user reactions to new user interfaces
Other startups aimed to make products easier to buy, with augmented retail experiences: interaction with real people, augmented reality, and immersive 3D environments:
- iAdvize: Easy-to-integrate live chat support software
- Moodstocks: Image recognition APIs for mobile devices
- Serious Factory:Interactive 3D space planning tools
- SquareClock: 3D tools to provide an immersive retail experience
Pushing Industry Boundaries with Analytics
The startups proposed new industry-focused business opportunities, driven by new big data technologies.
- Chef Jerome: A semantic recommendation engine for the food industry
- Discotheka: Semantics-based music classification and other services
- PathoQuest:Using big data to identify medical pathogens
- Evolution Energie: Energy optimization through analytics
- Imascap: A computer-assisted shoulder surgery system
- Stilog: Visual tools to facilitate complex resource planning
- Trinov: Money-saving analytics for the waste management industry
And The Prizes Go To…
PathoQuest: PathoQuest’s vision of using the power of in-memory analytics to improve medical diagnostics seduced SAP’s employees. In order to determine the right treatment in cases when an unknown pathogen is believed to be causing a patient’s disease, Pathogen uses complex big-data analytics to compares the DNA in patients’ samples with an array of DNA libraries of animals and pathogens, radically reducing the time taken to come to the right diagnosis.
Cliris: Cliris is one of those technologies where seeing it in action is more eloquent than any slide presentation. Advanced image-processing technology including face recognition lets retail stores track a wide variety of different types of consumer behavior in stores, from detecting foot-traffic bottlenecks to tracking the effectiveness of a window display or individual in-store promotion. The result is that real-world store activity can be analyzed and optimized as easily as today’s retail web sites.
Chef Jerome. Antoine Durieux of young French startup Chef Jerome won the presentation award, decided by a jury of SAP’s marketing experts. He managed to combine self-depreciating humor with a clear explanation of the company’s technology innovation and business impact, and laid out a vision for future opportunities using a clear, well-organized slide deck with excellent graphics. The end result was a presentation that clearly added a lot of value beyond a simple explanation of the company’s products.
Additional “jury” prizes went to Serious Factory, KXEN, AB Tasty, SquareClock, Bime, Imascap, Evolution Energie, Data Publica, Trinov, Qunb, and iAdvize.
The winners will attend SAP’s technical boot camps in Paris
You can see other pictures from the forum here:
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- There was a phenomenal turn out in SAP Startup Forum in Berlin. Find out more about SAP Startup Forums around the world, including Australia.
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- Techcrunch on why SAP is holding the Forums, with HANA, the company’s first ever platform play, and why the company is giving startups millions of dollars worth of software.