New SAP Innovation Center Focuses on Enterprise AI


SAP Innovation Center Network boasts of its diverse teams from 5 locations worldwide, including 17 nationalities and over 140 innovation experts.

SAP has celebrated the grand opening of its new AI-focused SAP Innovation Center at Newport Beach earlier this month alongside the launch of an innovation campaign with HeroX to accelerate the impact of enterprise AI.

The stunning new office also adopted the HanaHaus concept, a community workspace that combines the best aspects of café and coworking culture and cultivates a dynamic atmosphere for innovation.

Hans-Martin Will, who previously led the development of AI systems for Amazon Alexa, will lead the new engineering team to work on solving some of the toughest problems in enterprise AI, building on the experience of SAP’s central machine learning organization. 

With the rapid adoption of Machine Learning and AI by enterprises, unique challenges have also been revealed. The recent study by McKinsey cited Some of the common challenges related to AI are about functional silos that constrain end-to-end solutions, lack of available data, or limited usefulness of data, as well as that personal judgment overrides decisions made by AI.

Through the years, SAP has been developing solutions such as SAP Conversational AI, SAP Data Intelligence, and intelligent robotic process automation to create a multifaceted foundation for infusing intelligence into applications of end-to-end business processes.

With the AI-focused SAP Innovation Center, Will’s team focuses on:

  • Ambient voice technology: Accuracy in voice technology is the biggest challenge stated by 57% of IT decision-makers from enterprises who invest in it. The team aims to address the concern and make voice enterprise-ready by partnering with the University of California, Irvine to infuse premier research into their efforts.
  • AI-driven development: As every business function and software development embed Artificial intelligence, the team intends to make it easier for developers not only to incorporate AI features into applications but also, more importantly, create capabilities that intelligently automate parts of the development process itself.
  • Explainable AI: The team will focus on new strategies to make AI explainable, creating more trust and accelerate the positive impact of AI. This addresses the concern on how an AI machine cannot make decisions like humans do, which includes justifying with facts or layout arguments for everyone’s benefit.
  • Data labeling and anonymization: The team would like to identify new data labeling and anonymization techniques to addresses the challenge on typical data anonymization methods that are either insufficient to secure the sensitive information or drastically reduce data utility. 

The $60,000 Data Anonymization Challenge

As the new SAP Innovation center focuses on AI, it has partnered with HeroX, a crowdsourcing platform for enterprises and innovators, to launch a prized-competition. The challenge will award up to $60,000 in total prizes for solutions that can identify personally-identifying information (PII) within semi-structured data and then anonymize it.

The participants will work with a set of 25000 invoices from the public RVL-CDIP DatasetRVL-CDIP Dataset [1,2], including invoices that are (low quality) scans or contain handwritten notes. Participants may use other datasets that are available to them to train their model and maximize its generalizability.

After the competition, SAP encourages the innovators to open-source their winning solution.

Winners will be announced on the 2nd of March 2020.

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