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How do we perceive Co-innovation?

Often we hear that Apple and Google are given as benchmarks for innovation, but they are very unique and it is very difficult, if not impossible, to repeat their success. Roberto Verganti, professor of management of innovation of Politecnico di Milano says, “Insights do not move from users to Apple but the other way around. More than Apple listening to us, it’s us who listen to Apple.” Now, how many companies can do this?

SAP is known for solving customer problems: our most powerful innovations are solving customer pain points. We don’t need to innovate everywhere and dilute our strength, but rather innovate in areas where we have strong expertise, can have impact on customers relatively fast and gain competitive advantage. This means that a key to our success is to co-innovate with customers and be able to create value for mutual benefit within a short time frame- 6- 12 months.

To the question, who should be responsible for identifying these co-innovation opportunities and put emerging business behaviors and needs into a context for a business? A first answer I hear quite often is “the CEO” and the second easy answer is “everyone in the company”. Now, let’s face it: the CEO can set the strategy and make innovations a corporate priority, but the really crucial point is the execution. And as far as the employees are concerned, not everyone at the company is really interested innovating…

So the truth is maybe somewhere in the middle: start with a team and grow to a couple of teams that are extremely customer focused, empowered to make decisions, can tap required SAP resources and have the executive support and commitment for the co-innovation opportunities they are after.

What are your thoughts on this?

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