When you’re hacking away at night trying to get your brilliant big data product idea as far as a basic MVP, don’t you wish you had the resources of a massive software firm like the German giant SAP to throw at it?
Then you’ll probably be pleased to find out that the firm has just brought its Co-Innovation Lab (COIL) initiative to South Africa, opening a facility at its Woodmead offices in Johannesburg this morning.
The Joburg COIL will join a network of 10 others around the world, and is the first in Africa for SAP. Unlike some of the other innovations/co-creation spaces we’ve seen open up around the country lately – like GE or IBM – much less emphasis is placed on the physical space with SAP’s COIL. Rather it’s a formalised way of building new products with new and existing partners, which SAP is happy to share the IP right with.
The Joburg COIL will have a particular focus around the “internet of things” (IoT) products, and getting partners to use its Hana platform for big data and analysis. One project that has been incubated so far as a trial of the program is EOH’s monitoring system for Tshwane’s water and sewerage network, which can keep track of flow rates and volumes of liquids in the city’s pipes.
SAP’s head of IoT strategy and innovation, Dr Hans Jörg Stitz (pictured above), was in Joburg for the launch. He says that big companies have to look outside their walls for real innovation, and that collaboration is better than acquisition.
“Through co-innovation different ideas come together because different people have different ideas and technology,” Stitz says, “So bring them together and something exciting happens.”
As part of the launch, SAP also signed a partnership deal with the Inter-university Institute for Data-Intensive Astronomy (IDIA), one of the key bodies involved in the development of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope. IDIA head Dr Russ Taylor says that private companies like SAP can help develop tools for analysing the massive amounts of data SKA will generate.