I've been speaking a lot recently about the next wave of 'open innovation' -- it's the need and the trend of companies moving beyond purely 'transactional' approaches to open innovation toward a new frontier of creating collaborative networks of external partners (whether other large companies, suppliers or startups/inventors).
SAP had established its "Co-Innovation" Lab in 2007 as an experiment with a select 'ecosystem' of partners to collaborate on solving industry-specific challenges via SAP's platform. It's both a physical space and an open platform for collaboration, but done in controlled fashion.
Unlike many 'open social' platforms where anyone can contribute and the results are common property, SAP's approach is more focused, evidenced by its being sponsored and initiated in cooperation with HP, Intel, NetApp and Cisco.
In their most recent press release in June, SAP claims many projects are emerging including a collaboration workspace, support for service-oriented architecture (SOA) management a disaster recovery solution, a real-time reporting solution for manufacturers, and solutions that help companies improve business performance.
While this SAP ecosystem example is fairly narrow, and clearly focused on further penetrating/enabling the SAP platform, I think it's another clear example of where many companies are headed -- toward private, invitation-only collaboration with select partners. I don't see this replacing other open innovation efforts, but its an important step in ensuring meaningful, measurable and faster results from collaboration.
Expect to see a lot more of this over the next few years.