We’ve all heard it said the data is the new oil. But what if it’s the new soil instead—the raw material from which new ideas can grow into products and services that we haven’t seen before and might not even have begun to imagine.

With the onslaught of Cloud, mobile, social, big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT) we can not only gather and crunch more, and more kinds of data, than ever before, but we can also extract new insights from it.

And while we often say knowledge is power, when rightly applied, knowledge is service, so said Maria Luisa Silva, Director, Market Enablement for EMEA & MEE, SAP Startups at SAP.

At Sapphire Now, SAP’s annual user conference we spoke to, or watched pitches from more than a dozen startups that have built, or are building new, innovative solutions on the SAP Hana platform. These innovators crunch big data sets and leverage predictive analytics in entirely new ways to create unique products.

Who Can Predict the Weather?

No one, said Gabriel Gross, founder of Meteo Protect, a French startup that designs financial solutions based on scientific and big data innovations to help companies handle the short and medium term challenges that climate change creates.

Take farmers whose wheat yields are diminished when temperatures are too high over the summer or manufacturers who sell spare parts for heaters whose sales drop dramatically when winters aren’t cold—this is a big deal. Consider that in the latter case a Japanese manufacturer had to lay off 208 workers because there was no product demand. Having insurance against the weather is vital.

Mateo Protect offers a platform that insurers and reinsurers use to hedge their bets, in real time, using data collected from weather stations all over the world over a ten-year period. That’s a whole lot of data to crunch and algorithms to design. But if Meteo Protect can help price the risk then people who work in weather-affected businesses can sleep, at least a little better.

Why did Gross choose to build on an SAP Hana platform rather than cobble together a number of open source alternatives, we had to ask. Gross said that they tried the open source initially but ran into scaling issues as well as customers and regulators who wanted to be assured that the technology their platform was built on was solid.

But there was another, equally important, reason said Gross. SAP offers several things to its startups that are difficult to find elsewhere. There’s the shepherding that the likes of Silva provides, introduction by SAP to its customers, and technical help from SAP that is always a phone call away. We should note that SAP doesn’t charge Meteo Protect or startups like t, any fees. So what’s in it for the software giant? When Meteo Protect gets big enough, it might become a paying SAP customer.

Giving Shoppers What They Want

Has your in-store shopping experience become easier over the last several years or does a sales person still hover over you with no clue as to what you want Unless you tell him.) Does he watch you in frustration as you enter product names into apps on your phone without having any idea whether you’re looking for a better price or reviews on the television you’re thinking about buying. And what if you were willing to buy a product right now, but the store across the highway will be offering a better deal during its preview sale next Tuesday. Wouldn’t you buy what you’re looking at now if your questions could be satisfied while you’re in the store?

Amy Lai founded Wittos to help “local spaces” understand what mobile customers want. It’s an opt-in service that leaves customers in control of their data, but aims to provide shoppers with a contextual in-store experience. It learns as customers reach for their phones and delivers offers and insights that consumers are actually looking for. It achieves this via artificial intelligence and analytics.

Internet of Everything

Cisco says that humans will become a node on the Internet. Interesting? Sure. But what’s even more interesting is how individual and tribal knowledge (aka what humans know) can be blended with big data (structured, unstructured, semi-structured) machine learning and artificial intelligence to glean better insights than ever imagined. That’s what AppOrchid aims to do. It uses data from people, processes and devices to help companies create solutions and discover things like energy and profit leaks, make predictable promotions based on clustered buyer preferences and look at all the different variables to help make green energy reliable, and so on…

Data is the New Soil

No, we’re not talking about a new platform or anything technical, instead we’re pointing out a few examples of how startups are leveraging new and old data types, human intelligence, and real behavior to create and grow a new breed of solutions that might help us live better.