“The disadvantages involved in pulling lots of black sticky slime from out of the ground where it had been safely hidden out of harm’s way, turning it into tar to cover the land with, smoke to fill the air with and pouring the rest into the sea, all seemed to outweigh the advantages of being able to get more quickly from one place to another”.

Number 21 in the 42 best quotes from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Is one of my favorite quotes from the book “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”, by the late Douglas Adams.

It reminds me that sometimes it can be beneficial to view things from a completely different perspective, get another angle to the situation and question why we do things in a particular way in the first place, and why we all accept that as being completely normal.

If we focus on the last line of the quote “the advantages of being able to get more quickly from one place to another”, and ask ourselves what would be an acceptable cost, not just in monetary terms but other impacts such as environmental or regional conflict? Would I opt for getting around just a bit quicker, with lower impact, if that meant the world was more sustainable for instance! What if I had a selection of choices that offered differing improvements in speed of getting more quickly from one place to another, with levels of environmental impact, regional conflict, and financial cost?

I think our choice could very well be quite different from the situation we find ourselves in today.

It is a stark reminder that things evolve, and as they do we very often forget to revisit why we are doing them in the first place. As we look to improve we focus on the small things like making our vehicles quieter, or reducing the running costs by making them more efficient, or adding satellite navigation so we don’t get lost. We improve our experience of something that is fundamentally floored. The idea that we can keep putting sticky black stuff in our cars, even though the concept is, when told by Mr Adams comical, and in reality quite sad because we all know it will simply run out one day!

What is my point?

My point is you have to reinvent. Yes you have to improve what you have, but you also need to take a step back and say what if we did this differently? If we set out to do today something that we started a while ago, let’s not forget the internal combustion engine is over a hundred years old, how would we do it now? What criteria would we chose? What would be unacceptable now that back then was not an issue?

Take an innovation like SAP HANA, an in memory database that is lightning fast. The simple way to look at the benefit of this technology is to say we can now do the same things much, much faster. Some businesses are now running reports thousands of times faster. But to capture the real benefits of this technology you have to look at your business like it’s the motorcar. You can make it go much quicker but the real opportunity is addressing the big issues like a fuel that is running out, an environmental mess and peoples lives being affected because they live in a region that has a valuable natural resource.

Technology is just an enabler to our imagination.

At SAP we help our customers to fire their imagination with industry specific benchmarking data designed to show what could be improved in their businesses. It’s our customers that take that next step, that leap of faith, to reinvent what they do, why they do it, and how their customers can benefit from a rethink on how we got here and why.

Check out the SAP solution Explorer today and take that first step to reinventing your business. Real Time Enterprise in the SAP Solution Explorer

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