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Stretching the Boundaries to Maximize Innovation

All companies need to innovate. What Don Tapscott wrote in  his groundbreaking book The Digital Economy
applies today more than ever, “The new economy is all about competing for the future, the capacity to
create new products or services, and the ability to transform businesses into new entities that yesterday couldn't be imagined
and that the day after tomorrow may be obsolete.”[1]


With our growing digital economy, innovation is a necessity. Organizations must be able to innovate and apply the latest technologies
in their go-to-market strategies to capture emerging opportunities and thrive in a rapidly changing business landscape. But all companies have limited capacity for innovation – whether those limits are financial, human capital, or organizational. The challenge is to stretch the boundaries that limit innovation to maximize our potential to succeed. How? That’s what I’ll focus on
in this Innovation blog series.

Grasp the concept of infinite capacity

Say your company is brainstorming ideas to capitalize on the digital economy. People have a natural tendency to put constraints around
those ideas. “We don’t have expertise in that area.” “Our company is not prepared to grow in that direction.” “Our current infrastructure won’t support that business model.”

But what if your business had unlimited resources? What would you build? What technologies would you pursue? How would you prioritize business ideas?

That’s what the Accenture and SAP Business Solutions Group helps companies determine. We help remove the boundaries that limit
innovation. We pool our respective strengths and resources and collaborate with companies to develop industry-specific solutions that are powered by the latest digital technologies – cloud, in-memory, big data, analytics, and mobile.

This partnership model allows us to apply the collective expertise of SAP and Accenture, specific to an industry or domain area, and
focus it to build solutions that are highly valued in the market. The joint team includes some of the world’s leading solution development talent. Together, they created their first industry solution, the UpstreamProduction Operations by Accenture and SAP which features a set of solutions, services, and training for oil and gas companies’ production
operations. Another solution in the early planning stages focuses on the use of big data and in-memory computing to enable predictive maintenance in the utility industry. 


The saying “two heads are better than one” comes to mind. By working as a team with Accenture and SAP, you can exponentially increase
your ability to identify business needs, develop and implement solutions, and execute go-to-market strategies.

Explore opportunities to co-innovate


Co-innovation is an ongoing effort at SAP.  By working directly with customers, we maximize our talent and develop solutions to specific industry needs. Some of the ideas we’re currently developing with customers include:


-      Working alongside higher education and research institutions, we’re developing a student
information system to manage students’ interactions from the application
process, through academic progress to graduation and alumni relations.

-     In Retail, we’re building a standard solution for Chief Marketing Officers, tying together
financial performance, pricing visibility, marketing and promotion
optimization, and markdown planning and optimization.

-     To comply with emerging legislation, SAP is working with pharmaceutical companies to
build a solution to track prescription drugs down to unit level throughout the
entire supply chain.
Tap into the power of many

In this Innovation blog series, I’ll be exploring co-innovation models and opportunities at SAP, and how we work with customers and partners to help them address their unique business challenges. While we’ll continue to offer standard developed products
as the foundation of our business applications, we also recognize that customers will need industry specific solutions – and by leveraging the SAP HANA Cloud platform as the basis for these solutions, we can implement them faster and with minimum disruption.

If you can draw on the expertise of 500 or 5,000 or 50,000 people, your ability to innovate is almost endless. Then you can prioritize those ideas to work within your financial, human capital, or organizational limits.


[1] Tapscott,
Don. The Digital Economy Anniversary Edition: Rethinking Promise and Peril
in the Age of Networked Intelligence
. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2014. 54.

Steven Birdsall is senior vice president of Industry Cloud at SAP

Follow Steven: @sdbirdsall