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In the first part of this blog series, I introduced the four phases of the innovation journey: Preparation, Discovery, Adoption/Creation and Operation.

Innovation preparation is an imperative

The digital transformation is here.  It is now.  It is happening all around us. To make it a reality, we need to prepare a fertile ground where digitally driven innovation can grow.  This starts from the top:

  • With leadership transformation, we enable business to develop a compelling vision for digital transformation.
  • With ‘innovation thinking’, we establish not just the use of digital to automate or optimise existing business processes. We can re-imagine business models.
  • New business models will need new business processes. Rethinking the processes means focussing on
  • The advances in technology open up possibilities that simply weren’t there before. With big data and super-computing, how do we interpret the vast amounts of information relative to customers, transactions, services, products?
  • And the workforce.  How will we attract, develop and retain internal resources? How will we source, deploy and integrate external resources?

Building the foundation

In his recent blog about Innovation, SAP’s Andy Lawrence talks about the importance of establishing a stable and confident IT organisation that ‘excels in running their systems of today whilst simultaneously driving transformation into their new solutions of tomorrow’.

This is what Gartner refers to as bi-modal IT. And of course, we need to use the existing tools differently and maybe deploy new ones to enable foundation processes. 

Finding focus

We need insight, transparency and stability in the existing landscape.  If we know what is happening where and what actions will affect which business processes, then we also can deduce which innovations will be most beneficial and actually track their impact.  To quote an SAP customer we recently worked with to build a dashboard with critical KPIs and proactive alerting of process exceptions: “you can’t improve what you can’t measure.” Creating this transparency through for example business process analytics and/or end user experience monitoring, will not only improve the current operations, but will bring focus to the innovations. In a recent project with a manufacturing customer at SAP, we were able to find the information that business decision makers needed in order to steer and define business processes that needed optimisation and moreover, the new business models that needed to be enabled.

Freeing up resources

Building a modern architecture and automating operational process in preparation will lower overall TCO - the very total cost of operations that is the antidote to innovation.  Organisations spend so much money just keeping the lights on that there is no room left for business innovation.  Deployment options like IaaS or SaaS reduce the cost of operations through automation and standardisation. This can, in my experience, free up 10-30% of existing budgets and re-direct them to innovation.

Building confidence

With secure and robust operations in place, full insight into processes, and the ability to predict the impact of changes, the testing and release of changes become part of the operations, as opposed to a standalone project. This is a major confidence boost. Enhance that confidence by choosing strong partners to work with, and you can dissipate the fear that disruptive innovation leads to disrupting business continuity.

If you have examples where building such a foundation as innovation preparation helped (or vice versa), I would love to hear them.

Paul Helms,
VP for Enterprise Support and Premium Engagements at SAP

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