I was part of the InnovationWeekend – which I thoroughly enjoyed – and kept trying to figure out why it was such an interesting and worthwhile experience. As I walked the show floor, I also checked out the various demo pods and the Innovation Lab . I started to think about the different ways in which innovation was presented at the event. I also reflected about the different ways in which collaboration with SAP takes place.
I’m calling the two types of innovation – “Hot Innovation” vs “Cold Innovation” without making a judgment call on their relative values. There is a time and a situation in which each has its definitive place. For me, the distinction is not based on the technology / innovation itself but rather how it is presented. This attitude in turn reflects more than the marketing of innovation but also how external involvement in innovation is perceived. How much do you show customers or partners and when and how do you involve them in innovation?
|Example at TechEd||Innovation Weekend (IW)||Innovation Lab|
|Interaction Type||Collaboration||Demonstration / Discussion|
|Symbol at TechEd||IW teams that were made up a partners, customers, SAP employees and new technology experts from SAP – this produced a feeling that focused on “we”||SAP “Scientists” walking around in white lab coats in the Innovation Lab. For me, this symbolized the distinction between “us” / SAP and “them” / attendees.|
|Representative Tweet / message||“Good news for #sapteched #innowe10 participants -@innovcenter will also be there in LV with latest protos for teams to use” – tweet from
|Led by self-proclaimed alpha geek Dr. Jeff Word, the Innovation Lab offers visitors to the show floor an opportunity to discuss products and projects in their infancy. Jeff considers the Innovation Lab to be a reflection of the maturity of SAP’s co-innovation model and is convinced that customers see value in getting early access to the products, and participating in the maturing process.
|Interaction with Innovation||The most exciting thing about the IW was that customers and SAP representatives worked with the technology together – discovering strengths and weaknesses. There was no hiding if difficulties emerged. If an innovation had problems, then it was discovered and possible solutions discussed.||Users are given overviews of exciting innovations that usually originate with SAP Labs.|
|Interaction Duration||30 hrs||less than 1 hr|
Interaction demonstrates the mature co-innovation model that SAP has successfully implemented to involve customers in product development. Further examples of such involvement are Design Partner Council (DPC), Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI)
|Legal Basis||No contracts necessary||Although attendees who attend Innovation Labs sessions don’t have to sign any contracts to get information, participation in other types of cold innovation require legal agreements to deal with the IP issues.|
Note: For those who think that the IW wasn’t used to present “important” innovation from SAP, participants at the event were given the opportunity to use River – which plays a central part of SAP’s cloud strategy.
Innovation and the Demo Jam
The Demo Jam is one event that showcases innovation in the SAP ecosystem. I’ve seen quite a few and I have the feeling that they have lost some of their passion. They’ve become too professional. I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of watching a tightrope walker – you hope they don’t fall but there is always the chance that they might. This feeling of inherent danger is missing in the DemoJams. Yeah, the innovations presented on stage are cool but the roughness – that “developed in garage by two hackers” feeling – is missing. Thus, it is often difficult to identify with those on stage. Although the Demojams are no longer hot innovation, they aren’t quite cold innovation – let’s call them warm innovation.
I think you need both types of innovation. I was involved in the InnovationWeekend. I’m participating in multiple CEI sessions and am also member of a DPC, so I appreciate innovation at both levels. However, I have to admit that the collaboration in the IW was more visceral.
You can view hot and cold innovation as phases on a single innovative continuum – sort of like falling in love and then moving into a serious relationship / getting married. Each phase has different advantages and disadvantages. You can’t have one without the other.
In some ways, it is like any relationship amongst individuals. If you open yourself (or open your heart) to the outside world, you expose yourself to emotional damage from those whose only desire is to hurt. However, this openness can also lead to relationships that are stronger than steel and which can withstand great adversity. As a software vendor or any company, isn’t that the trust / relationship that you wish you had with your constituents – be they customers, employees, business partners or members of your ecosystem