SAP Design
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SAP Design

Business and Design

A digital poster for the SAP Design Talk. The text reads “Arin Bhowmick: Chief Design Officer, SAP”. Next to the text, an abstract and deconstructed white pictogram of Arin appears. All elements are set against a purple background.

In 2018, InVision surveyed designers from more than two thousand organizations around the world to explore how companies create better business outcomes with design. What did they find? Design-led companies have a tremendous impact on revenue, cost savings, time to market, and valuations. In short, the more a company invests in design, the better business outcomes they see. It may seem self-evident, but even today, design teams are still finding it hard to translate how improvements to the user experience impact the quantitative business outcomes.

Imagine one of your product managers asking if a redesign was worth it. Was it? How do you know? This is a question I asked my audience during the latest installment of the SAP Design Talks. Or maybe your board of directors wants to know what the return on investment was for Design? Now, are we ready as a Design organization to answer these questions?

For the first time in over two years, the SAP Design Talks was hosted in front of a live audience, with about 600 online viewers from all around the world following along on the livestream. I was honored to be invited as SAP’s new Chief Design Officer to share insights from my experience as a leader in enterprise UX at companies such as Oracle and IBM, and to give a preview of how I plan to enable the Design organization at SAP to do their best work.

Two themes that echoed throughout my talk were effectiveness and efficiency. Being effective is really about doing things the right way, while being efficient is about doing the right things. The distinction is simple, but crucial.

One of the key challenges that Design faces is to be effective, which simply put means being able to deliver on business outcomes. But in order to do so, we first need to understand what those business outcomes are. The business doesn’t care about design thinking or Design per se. A business only cares about market outcomes. Bridging the gap between the two is the most fundamental challenge for Design. Today’s enterprise designers need to be trained in business outcomes and OKRs, so that they are better enabled to use design strategy and design tactics to create and find untapped opportunities for our products and services.

Being efficient, on the other hand, means having a modern set of practices, flexible frameworks, and robust systems so that the designers, stakeholders, partners, and really anyone involved in the product experience, can do their best work. This means investing in areas such as our user research practice, our tooling, and our people culture. At IBM, my previous company, our focus was on user outcomes, restless reinvention, and fostering diverse, empowered teams. But this approach applies to any organization looking to scale design. Only with the right practices, frameworks, and systems in place can we truly advance our design maturity at scale and help to ultimately push SAP’s business transformation forward.

The SAP Design Talks regularly bring leaders from the international design scene to SAP. The sessions are held for an internal audience of employees at various SAP locations and are broadcast live around the globe. Visit the SAP Design Talks webpage to see video interviews and more from previous talks.

Arin Bhowmick (@arinbhowmick) is Chief Design Officer at SAP, based in San Francisco, California. The above article is personal and does not necessarily represent SAP’s positions, strategies or opinions.



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Arin Bhowmick

Arin Bhowmick

Chief Design Officer, @SAP | ex CDO @IBM |Cloud, AI and Apps I UX Leadership| UX Strategy| Usability & User Research| Product Design