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Yesterday was the SAP World Tour event in Toronto – and it was an awesome day. The excitement started early when I pulled into the parking lot of the Toronto Congress Centre to find a sea of cars and an entry way packed full of people. The buzz in the crowd was awesome.

A highlight of the day was the keynote session discussion with Mark Aboud, Managing Director of SAP Canada and Amanda Lane, CBC reporter. One of the lines that stuck with me was that “productivity is about working smart”. Amanda Lane speaks and writes about productivity and innovation and she explained that “productivity is an indicator of wealth – when productivity goes up we get richer, when it goes down we get poorer.” The conversation got me thinking about how mobility can help employees, partners and customers work smarter and be more productive.

The conversation dove deeper into the topic of innovation – since this is what makes businesses more productive. Today’s enterprises need to focus on innovation.  But how exactly do you innovate? According to Amanda, “you simply encourage people to ask why or why not… Ask yourself ‘what am I doing to be more innovative every day’.”

Sometime we think that innovation has to be a big deal – perhaps a think tank set apart from everyday operations of your company. But the more important venue for innovation is with every employee in their everyday activities. Innovation is not about invention. It is about finding ways to do things better. I think executives wrestle with how to encourage innovation at the ‘everyday’ level – and with how to use technology to do this. Mobility is an area where we can truly innovate in everyday activities. I recently spoke with a customer who ran a contest for their employees. The concept was simple – submit ideas on how mobility could possibly improve your day to day job. The response was overwhelming and the ideas came flooding in. All submissions are being considered as a possible use cases for the company’s mobile applications initiative. Now that is innovation.

In the World Tour keynote, Mark About made a very valid comment; “If people don’t have the right tools and information they get dissatisfied.” If they have the potential to contribute to innovation and increase their own productivity, employees will be happy. Mobility really gives enterprises a fantastic opportunity to innovate.

During the keynote, they talked about Service Innovation being one of the most important areas for companies to focus on. I think the opportunity for mobility to truly transform how services are delivered in incredible. Just think of the potential for customer self-service via mobile devices, for retailers to offer customized services to individuals based on their unique needs, for employees to deliver world-class service based on up-to-the-minute data. The opportunities are endless and the technology is here today.

The mobility sessions and conversations at World Tour Toronto offered a lot of food for thought in this area. The first mobility session, delivered to a room filled to overflowing, featured John Ramsell (VP of mobility at SAP) who discussed how SAP not only offers a wide range of mobility solutions to our customers and partners, but also how we run mobility in-house. Josh Bentley (IT at SAP) shared how SAP had embraced mobility across the company with over 11,000 iPads, 22,000 BlackBerry smartphones, and over 3000 iPhones. Carol Richardson (operations for Canada) shared fantastic demos of how we use our own mobile analytics solutions to gain instant insight into company operations. This has transformed how we run our business with a change from weekly reports to instant reports.

As a consumer (especially working in this industry) I am sometimes frustrated by companies who aren’t addressing the opportunities of mobility today. But as an SAP employee, I’m excited that our customers are the innovators who will change this by deploying game changing mobility solutions tomorrow.

The technology is here people – let’s take advantage of it!

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