In September 2013, Jens Krüger became one of the two heads of the SAP Innovation Center. In this role, he oversees pioneering projects in the Application Innovation area based on SAP HANA.
You have majored in Business Administration. How come you switched to Information Technology?
I have always had a strong penchant for Informatics. Yet, I decided to major in Business Administration with Computer Science as my minor. I felt that this combination provided the most leeway and the greatest spectrum of opportunities for me. When I worked as an ABAP developer at an SAP consultancy, I dived even deeper into Informatics in general, and SAP systems in particular. The magnitude of the SAP systems was fascinating to me as there was always more to discover. After having graduated, I took up the position as the SAP development team leader at an external consultancy where my responsibilities for the installation of systems etc. increased quickly.
In 2006, you became a PhD candidate at the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) and were later appointed Chair Representative of Prof. Hasso Plattner. What were the key projects and topics you drove at HPI?
I was part of the founding team of the academic in-memory database research project “HANA” that started in 2006 in cooperation with SAP. Our team implemented the first prototype of an in-memory database for an SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) system showing the feasibility of the architectural concept. In 2009, we implemented the in-memory database storage engine HYRISE to conduct research on hybrid data structures, reorganization and recompression.
Also, I was in charge of building up and running the in‐memory research laboratory. This lab provided the foundation and the infrastructure that was necessary to conduct basic technology research. From the very beginning, we worked in close collaboration with SAP customers and the SAP development department.
Besides these hands-on projects, I worked on my PhD thesis, focusing on enterprise-specific in-memory databases. The disputation is planned for the end of February.
At the SAP Innovation Center, you are responsible for the Application Innovation based on SAP HANA. What areas do you focus on?
Under the umbrella of the Innovation Center, there are two teams with a different focus: Jürgen’s team is primarily responsible for exploring yet untapped territory for SAP software. My team, on the other hand, focuses on solutions from SAP’s flagship product family, the SAP Business Suite, and takes them to whole new levels. With SAP HANA we do not only provide them with real-time capabilities. By putting a lot of emphasis on the user interface, we also give them a new face. In today’s business, both is a must – especially for those core processes.
Hereby, we work closely together with diverse companies – from the world’s largest enterprises to pre-revenue start-ups -, as well as academic and research partners like the Hasso Plattner Institute or other universities and scientific institutions, and, of course, with our colleagues in the broader SAP organization. Only through that collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach we can make sure that our solutions are desirable, technologically feasible and serve a viable business purpose.
As of February 1 you have also taken over the responsibility for the development unit of SAP’s financials solution, roughly 700 people. Sounds like two jobs in one…
It is a big task, no doubt about it. But it does make a lot of sense. With over 30 000 SAP Financials customers globally, there are very few other solutions that may similarly represent what has made SAP the leading enterprise software company on the planet. And we are committed to bringing innovation to the core; together with our customers; as fast as we can and without disruption.
What makes the SAP Innovation Center special from your point of view?
The Innovation Center merges startup qualities with more than 40 years of industry expertise and scientific standards in quite a unique way. In other words: we develop software with a laser sharp focus on the user and as fast as a startup, make use of the broad SAP network and ecosystem and apply the high standards that our employees have internalized throughout their academic careers. Our building concept supports this unique set-up with its Design Thinking elements and creative working spaces. All in all, a very inspiring working environment!