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The Three Pillars of Innovation

by Pat Bakey, President, SAP Industries

May 12, 2017

Only a few days left before SAPPHIRE NOW 2017!

This year’s event will focus heavily on helping customers navigate digital disruption. After all, digital disruption is happening everywhere and companies must get on board or face competitive obsolescence. However, companies must go above and beyond evolving business processes and reinvent their entire approach to driving innovation –SAP Industries is leading by example.

While it may seem adequate to take an ad hoc approach to innovation, implementing new pieces of technology and processes as isolated enhancements (e.g. IoT in your supply chain or AI in HR processes) won’t position your business to succeed in today’s digital economy. True innovation is based on a foundation supported by three core pillars – new technology, customer collaboration and strategic partnerships. If implemented effectively, they will drive your business from improving and renovating understood business areas to differentiating by solving new problems that will arise.

Pillar 1: Innovation with technology

Across your business portfolio, it’s a competitive necessity to explore new ways to revitalize your current technology offerings and develop new solutions capable of meeting industry-specific challenges. From “traditional” enterprise advancements (e.g. big data, advanced analytics) to “new-age” capabilities (e.g. video and image processing, brand logo recognition), innovative technology is the backbone for becoming a Digital Winner, even if it means expanding beyond your comfort zone (i.e. your traditional product offerings and processes).

For example, our Industries team is experimenting with brand logo recognition – an area of innovation that SAP is not historically known for – to develop solutions capable of delivering real-time recognition of logos in TV/video (e.g. sporting events), which creates new monetization models for advertising and media monitoring. Imagine a network platform capable of monitoring brand exposure in real-time, fueling the ability to estimate sponsorship contract ROI and optimize logo placements. This is just one example of why taking an unorthodox approach is needed to solve the problems of the future.

Pillar 2: Innovation with customers

When searching for unexplored areas of innovation, customers are an irreplaceable information source. No one has a better handle on the effectiveness and applications of various technologies than those that are implementing them to meet their unique business challenges and environments!

By working closely with our customers and expanding beyond internal silos, we have been able to intimately understand the biggest challenges that they face and co-innovate to develop rich, dynamic solutions that are broadly applicable across the industry and scalable to be applied to fit each customer’s unique needs.

Whether it is helping regional governments explore applications for blockchain to reduce the labor load of public servants or helping telco companies utilize machine learning to identify previously unnoticed revenue leakage points, these advancements are only made possible by customer co-innovation and the results are two-fold: SAP’s industry solutions continue growing in terms of usability and value, and customers identify areas where innovation can positively affect their back-office and front-end processes.

Pillar 3: Innovation with partners and ecosystem

The last key component of our new approach to innovation lies in building a foundation for a global ecosystem centered on SAP’s platform solutions via strategic partnerships. Technological advancements are great, but determining an effective strategy to scale these innovations is equally vital. We are seeing this today with big consumer companies like Facebook and Uber that are looking to tap into the enterprise market to drive the next wave of growth, and this is no different than our approach here at SAP. Our partnership with Apple is the most recent example, allowing our business to capitalize on the rich collection of APIs Apple offers to develop new SAP Cloud Platform SDKs for iOS platforms – allowing customers to quickly develop their own native apps with Swift, Apple’s modern programming language.

Tying all three of these pillars together produces a comprehensive innovation strategy that helps our customers unlock unexplored opportunities, identify and solve unforeseen problems, and generate new value for their customers – a concept I’m excited to explore further at this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW!

I’m looking forward to seeing you there. Check out my early thoughts on the event and join me for my Live Business Theatre Keynote on May 16thDeliver Value to your customers in a new, cross-industry, digital world’.

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