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In recent months we have frequently discussed the need for organizations to maintain focus on what the post-downturn world will be like with respect to competition and what it will take to get there. In this context the discussion has often been about maintaining and growing the ability to deliver innovation-based process renewal. In their efforts to succeed in this, organizations will have to consider the need to collaborate with partners and potentially even competitors.

A closer look at the software business, tells us that this is increasingly so. Let us take SAP as an example. It is well-known that despite some competitive element there is collaboration between SAP and Microsoft, as well as SAP and IBM. More recently the co-innovation story has grown to include many other combinations, such as SAP-HP, SAP-Cisco, and SAP-VMware. The SAP Co-Innovation Lab (COIL) network works with these and many other partners in the growing SAP ecosystem to discover, and design solutions for organizations that are looking to maximize the return from their SAP investment. As SAP pursues co-innovation in this manner, it is obvious that they are able to deliver value for their joint customers. The growing trend of co-innovation is evidence that this is working since there are ever more organizations that are willing to take advantage of this. Can this approach work in other industries, for example in the case of a logistics company or for a consumer products company?

The need to innovate is also felt within such organizations and there is no reason why they cannot co-innovate with their partners. Some are already doing this and others will increasingly do so. More and more, companies thrive within business networks and this means there is a greater interdependence within these networks between business partners. Active co-innovation in processes should lead to more desirable results with respect to effective performance and better revenue numbers. In many cases co-innovation could come from joint activities not just between two companies, but perhaps between three or more companies. To succeed in such endeavors, companies need platforms that are nimble and leverage the advantages of services-orientation. This also means there is a need for organizations to focus on important organizational issues such as establishing a culture of process primacy, information sharing, and establishing the business process expert role.

These topics are gaining in importance as companies look to retaining and gaining competitive edge. If it hasn’t already, your organization should consider this too.

P.S. I am taking some time off from most things electronic. I will be back in August. Stay cool!

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