Innovation needs a ‘we’ approach: Patent pathfinders turning work into wonders

In the ever-changing world of innovation, many see the journey to becoming an ideator, inventor as a challenging goal. At SAP Labs India, innovation is an integral part of our everyday work.
How to think of patents | I’ve been with SAP since 2000, dedicated to shaping the next generation of businesses through innovation. It wasn’t until 2018 I embarked on the journey of filing my first patent. Reflecting on my tenure predominantly on the engineering side, the realisation dawned upon me: Why hadn’t I taken this step earlier? The tendency to become absorbed in day-to-day tasks often leads us to overlook the patent-worthiness of our efforts. However, I’ve come to recognise that even routine problemsolving can yield novel ideas deserving of protection. Currently, my name is associated with an impressive count of 22 filed patents.
Recent effort | One of the recent patenting journeys emerged from a common organisational challenge – efficiently managing an extensive volume of content and accessing it with precision, timing, and context. Collaborating with my team and by leveraging generative AI capabilities, we conceived an intriguing idea – enabling individuals to engage in conversations with their documents, internal portal URLs, Workzone, SharePoint, or any other private and confidential repository. This means converting the documents into chatbots, allowing users to interact with the document store securely and reliably. It could be company policies, PDFs, work documents, project repositories, or anything else. What if we could pass along the user context to get more relevant and reliable responses (eg, employee profile, location, org chart); this would give the power to the users to create their chatbots and share them with others.

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AI-powered chatbot | The result is a groundbreaking service featuring the AI-powered chatbot Sarah, streamlining the onboarding process and delivering hyper-personalised, contextual information based on different employee profiles. Sarah can answer questions related to HR, finance, transport, admin, etc, and is helpful to make the onboarding process more seamless and engaging for new joinees. Moreover, based on the different employee profiles, the avatar can offer hyper-personalised, contextual information.
Many involved | The journey towards this patent was a collective effort, involving my entire team. Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP and MD of SAP Labs India, Kalpana Karunamurthi, engineering head for Success Factors, and HR Head Shweta Mohanty, were integral contributors for this innovation to come alive. For a few of the team members, this venture marked their initiation into the world of patenting – an experience that broadened their perspectives and added a significant feather to their professional caps.
Making it part of org culture | In my role, I actively collaborate with colleagues on projects, guiding them through the patent journey. It’s a personal aspiration of mine to cultivate a culture where innovation and patenting become second nature – a part of our organisational DNA. I believe that the first patent is like breaking through a glass ceiling, challenging yet transformative. My aim is to make patenting contagious within our organisation. This commitment has yielded tangible results, creating a culture where employees naturally embody the spirit of innovation, propelling the continuous evolution of SAP’s technological landscape.
Two-year programme | There is a need for a collaborative approach to innovation that emphasises teamwork, and collective brainstorming transforming ideas into unique concepts. To instil a patent-focused mindset, we initiated a two-year programme, cultivating a community of enthusiastic employees eager to share their patenting experiences. Through initiatives like Patenting@SAP, we give individuals the tools to cultivate and develop their ideas, offering guidance through the patenting process. It’s a practical approach to innovation that empowers our team members to turn their ideas into reality.

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