Darwin was Right: Business Can Either Innovate or Die
The hand-wringing over the supposedly uncertain fate of SAP’s on-premise enterprise resource planning software in light of the company’s innovation strategy is a classic study in how some people deal with change. It’s true that reinventing the company around the SAP HANA real-time business platform, Big-Data, mobile, social, and cloud has ushered in a whole new era for SAP. In his keynote at SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP co-CEO Jim Snabe raised the standard of Darwin to make a solid case that business survival is inextricably linked to evolution (and sometimes revolution).
Some of the resultant market angst is totally understandable. Change can be scary and aside from a few adventurous outliers, many people don’t handle it well in their business or personal lives. Questions abound including what happens to existing customer software systems and long-time ways of doing business, not to mention partner practices? These are legitimate concerns. What they are NOT is a rationale for staying mired in the past.
Research studies show one of the most important personality attributes of people who live happily into their 90s is openness to new experiences. In other words, they are always moving forward towards a better future. This doesn’t necessarily mean that history isn’t irrelevant. As a history buff, I’d never negate the value or significance of looking back. Lessons learned from experience make it possible to proceed with confidence.
One of the other things associated with longevity is strong, lasting relationships with family and friends. For the past forty years SAP has built an incredible amount of trust across a global customer base. Businesses of all sizes rely on our software to meet their growth objectives. Customers depend on SAP so they can innovate for their customers and thrive in a changed world. It would be remiss not to introduce technology advancements that change everything for the better. Change is inevitable. New is good for business. It’s the only way to innovate for the future.
Common wisdom might say that youth is better equipped and more open to change. I would argue that the ability to reinvent oneself at any age is the most powerful form of innovation that’s open to anyone with the desire to effect change. At 41 years old, SAP is a prime example of what happens when you embrace change. However, one of the questions I keep hearing is ‘what about the rest of the SAP portfolio besides SAP HANA’? This needs to be clarified. SAP HANA is the SAP business platform moving forward, powering every solution in the entire portfolio for a smarter, faster, and simpler experience. With this is technology comes incredible opportunities for those who understand how to use it. But that’s a topic for another blog.