Customer Stories

How SAP drives customer engagement with hackathons on Devpost for Teams

See how SAP uses Devpost for Teams to connect with clients through its customer hackathons.


SAP is a Fortune 500® company that develops enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations. Over the last three years, the team at SAP Switzerland has run private hackathons for select groups of customers. These hackathons generate highly focused product feedback, increase product adoption, and help SAP provide greater value to its clients.

SAP Switzerland recently ran its first customer hackathon using Devpost for Teams (DFT). The four-day in-person event was designed to help participants produce a prototype that would solve a problem or improve a process with the help of SAPs cutting edge technology.

Each customer group was paired with an SAP expert and allowed to work on a business scenario from their own company—ensuring that customers walked away from the event with a minimal viable product or proof of concept that could be leveraged in the digital transformation.

Nico Wyss, Solutions Advisor for SAP’s Business Technology Platform, spoke to Devpost about the event. Here’s a summary of what his team achieved during the hackathon since using DFT:

  • Simplified hackathon management
  • Increased product adoption
  • Implemented hackathon submissions into production just weeks after the event
  • Gathered valuable customer feedback

Read on to see how streamlining hackathon management with DFT helped SAP drive product adoption, gather valuable product feedback, and provide more value to customers.

Table of contents

  • Company overview
  • Key goals
  • Challenges
  • The solution

Company overview

SAP is a market leader in enterprise application software. It helps companies run better by redefining ERP and creating networks of intelligent enterprises that provide transparency, resiliency, and sustainability across all of its customers' business processes.

SAP Switzerland runs private customer hackathons twice per year as a way to keep up with the pace of evolving technologies and engage with customers.

“Hackathons are extremely valuable for understanding the customer challenges in a short time, testing the practicality of the SAP service, and improving the functionalities and user experience,” said Nico.

Recently, SAP Switzerland held a private customer hackathon powered by the DFT platform. Participants were asked to use SAP’s Business Technology Platform (BTP) to develop a prototype to help solve their specific business challenges. The SAP team also used this event to better understand customer challenges and how SAP could help integrate the best solutions.

Key goals

  • Get a better understanding of the customers’ specific needs
  • Bring new technologies to its customers
  • Enable customers to tinker with the product
  • Gather specific product feedback
  • Streamline hackathon management


One of the biggest barriers SAP faced in bringing these hackathons to customers was managing the event itself. Before using DFT, the team managed the administrative tasks and submissions manually with several different tools.

Tasks like communication with participants, the project submission process, and project evaluation were clunky and time-consuming.

It was also challenging to restrict teams from working on their projects after the submission deadline since there wasn’t a dedicated place for project submissions.

Overall, SAP needed a hackathon platform that would streamline event management and provide participants with a better experience. Here’s how the team did it.

The solution

SAP used Devpost for Teams (DFT) to simplify managing its most recent private customer hackathon. Here’s a look at how this helped SAP achieve its goals for the event.

#1 Streamline hackathon management

Before using DFT, the SAP team manually managed their hackathons with several different tools. Nico highlighted a few of the DFT features that had the biggest impact on helping to streamline the hackathon management process.

“Our favorite features were those that facilitate easy project submission, judging, and the collaborative tools that aligned well with the goals of fostering innovation and practical solution development during the hackathon,” said Nico. “Also, the ability to communicate to all participants through one announcement functionality to keep everyone informed and on track during the hackathon,” he added.

“Now we have one tool for communication during the hackathon, the submission, and evaluation of the projects,” said Nico.

“It was really easy to get customers on the platform,” said Nico. “It was easy to get the projects up, see the submissions, and evaluate the cases. We’re still using the links and everything customers posted during the hackathon,” he said.

“I mean, we loved it,” said Nico when asked about his overall experience using DFT. “We of course had to learn the tool in the beginning, but we had the best support from Devpost before and during the event,” said Nico. “It’s quite easy to find your way around the platform,” he added.

“We now have a streamlined process which gives us more time to focus on what we want to achieve during the hackathon,” said Nico.

#2 Train and enable customers to use new technology

Customer hackathons are a great way to engage with clients, help them get started with a new product, and learn how customers use the product.

“The hackathons are designed to enable customers to directly leverage SAP’s technology stack,” said Nico. “Not only do customers get to know that technology, but we also get a better understanding of their challenges.”

In the last hackathon, a customer who had never used the BTP was able to experiment and implement new use cases for the platform during the event.

“One of the participants was a lead developer from an international manufacturer. He had never touched the Business Technology Platform,” said Nico. “At the end of the four days, he had such an experience that they actually implemented more use cases after the hackathon with the tools delivered by the BTP.”

Nico added, “It gives us a really good sentiment and understanding of the customer’s problems and challenges.”

#3 Provide exceptional value to customers

While private customer hackathons provide SAP with many insights, the team also ensures that these events are valuable to their customers. Part of this is achieved by the way the hackathons are designed and the support SAP offers participants.

“Each customer has an SAP expert at their side for the four days,” said Nico. “Not only do our customers bring their developers to the hackathons, but they can also learn these new technologies from the best [SAP] experts available.”

Nico also shared how customers benefited from the hackathon and its long-lasting impact on improving some of their processes.

“We saw prototypes being implemented to production just a few weeks after the hackathon,” said Nico. “This is a really great achievement.”

Nico explained that one team in particular has continued to develop new use cases from the generative AI technology that was leveraged during the hackathon. “This technology was published just a few weeks before the hackathon,” he said. “This customer took on a new use case, on a new product, and leveraged it during the hackathon. Now it’s in production and running on a system with that customer,” he added.

“For them, it’s really a use case that has a financial impact,” said Nico. “It gave them the time back to focus on the high-value tasks in their specific line of work.”

#4 Use hackathons to stay relevant with emerging technologies (like generative AI)

Hackathons allow developers to experiment with new ideas and technologies. Given the huge impact that generative AI has on processes and tech, the topic of SAP’s recent customer hackathon focused on AI. Nico explained why hackathons are a good way to address these emerging technologies.

“The topic of AI, in general, is very present among our customers and within SAP,” he said. “We wanted to show that it's not just hype and show how our customers can benefit immediately and directly from the availability of these new and existing AI solutions that are in the SAP portfolio.

“For the integration of generative AI, we expect to enhance the scope of the innovation during these hackathons and the complexity even more through the capabilities provided, for example, through prompt coding.”

Nico also added how this helps SAP provide greater value to its customers. “The aim is to enhance business processes through new applications and within the AI business processes—enhancing the offerings that are provided by SAP through the creativity of our customers.”

#5 Get laser-focused customer feedback

SAP relies on customer feedback to help develop solutions that its customers need. For Nico and his team, customer hackathons have been a huge asset in generating these valuable insights.

“The goal of the hackathons is to probe things out that normally we’re not able to,” said Nico. “What we want to achieve is to bring people together from the business side and the development side and achieve something great in these few days.”

Nico added that his team learns from customers during the hackathon prep too. “We evaluate each of the customer cases separately with experts,” he said. “We go into the discussion and this already gives us a lot of feedback from the customer—what they want to achieve, where they see the products working, and possibly where they see lacking functionalities and how we can help them improve.”

The SAP team used registration questions on the DFT platform as a way to help gather additional data before the hackathon. “We got information on the proportion of people who already had a touch point to BTP and those who hadn’t,” said Nico. “So we had a good overview and basis on how to tailor the sessions to the audience.”

Nico shared more on why customer feedback is so important to SAP. “This is where you really differ in the selling process of software,” he said. “You do not just sell the software, but you actually provide a solution that fits the needs of the customer and brings tangible value.”

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