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Café Innovation – Where will you focus your innovation spotlight in 2009?

So 2009 is here. Major headlines range from the buzz around a new administration getting ready to take over in the US to record job losses and fraudulent corporate activity! The old refrain of “let us contain and cut costs” is louder than ever. Over this din it is hard to hear those who are saying “we can and should find ways to boost long term revenues that will keep us from cutting too deeply.”  Often the focus is so much on stopping cash outlay that companies forget that there are things that can be done differently such that they will be able to continue with certain strategic investments. In my last post of 2008 I suggested that the resolution for 2009 should be to keep strategic investments alive despite pressures to not entertain any cash outlay that did not have an immediate ROI. My conversations with friends and colleagues over the holidays and thereafter has confirmed that this is easier said than done, for it is a difficult argument to make to an executive or manager who is charged with a myopic KPI that calls for taking a hatchet to the budget rather than a scalpel!

For the corporation that has put off its R/3 upgrade to ECC until now, they may not be able to afford (for various reasons) to wait much longer; will this not constitute a strategic and tactical imperative? Those who are forced to reduce their workforce in these times, might find it increasingly difficult to run their businesses the way they have been; will they not need to do something in order to not be crushed by the burden of not being able to execute effectively? Those who are in markets where differentiation is needed to move ahead (or, perhaps even to survive) will be under pressure to do something different without a significant outlay of capital; will this not be a key reason for considering something different? If these corporations are to do something about these issues, they will need to consider something new, something innovative.

Innovation in these times is about what can we do different to achieve same or better results. It is also about where to apply scarce resources. Innovation is about recognizing that it is not about information technology but business technology – where technology rises to meet business needs. Leveraging the SAP platform or any other complementary technology offering is about developing and acting upon a vision of how the available technology pieces can drive business process innovation. Such an approach will also necessarily mean lining up the right people so the changes can be sustained and improved over the long run.

Now is the time, more so than ever, to dedicate the organization to the achievement of process excellence by calling upon the BPXers and leveraging the right pieces of technology. This requires a new mindset, not necessarily a significant new outlay of resources. Let us dedicate ourselves to a new mindset in this new year. Let us apply this new mindset to seek out innovation opportunities in our existing business process models in this new year. Let us seize the economic downturn as an opportunity and use it to drive necessary change in this new year.

Happy New Year!

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