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Author's profile photo Sudhir Verma

Innovation as Immunity

Body immunity is well known biology concept of creating a defensive system within individual body to prevent it from the dangers of germs, bad bacteria and viruses. It is well observed that the individual with good immunity system fall less sick as compared to the individuals with low immunity system. Is immunity is only about prevention of disease? The answer is no, it not only prevents disease but also makes body stronger and help it to grow. Children during the initial years grow immunity with getting exposed to many germs or viruses and latter with immune system growing quickly help them to grow, young individual are more prone to everyday pollution, viruses, bacteria and immune system help them keep going with the daily routine. Many of us also rely on the artificial way of growing the immune system and we tend to rely on various external sources such as pro-biotic drinks or tablet or honey etc to help us develop immunity and let us continue our daily routines (The intention was not to list down everything but provide sufficient example of external source and this is also not intended to promote the external source too, I am not from medicine background!).

When we keep thinking about our body immunity for our growth on daily basis and are very aware of the fact that it is required to make us grow stronger!

Like we have immunity for our body we have an analogy of Innovation for individual career or department or company as immunity. As we think about it, it kind of sound right as the innovation can help organization to grow! Also innovation can make company immune to changes in economy or external environment such as government policy changes, industry saturation, competition, acquisition threats, etc.. as shown in Figure 2. We are aware of many examples of such companies, SAP being a great example of the concept for Innovation as Immunity. When everyone was going down the quarters in terms of its financial reporting (such as revenue, growth) in turbulence economy situation SAP emerged stronger with its Innovations of bringing HANA In-Memory database technology to the fore front along with its cloud strategy to not only survive but to develop a immune system of the company which helped company to bring greater quarter and yearly financial results in the following years. Companies which dived into the path of innovation and developed system on top of it using design thinking or any other methods have grown well and have been able to defend themselves from external dangers.


Culture of innovation, which is many times narrated by senior executives is nothing but part of the company immune system of innovation. To develop this immune system we have to consume natural and artificial resources which would help companies establish a great immune system. Also one should keep it in mind that it is not enough to just focus once, but to continue focusing on developing the immune system similar to body immunity to keep company going for ages.

Like in case of body immunity one consumes natural or artificial resources to develop the immunity, same is true with company in which we have natural (establishing research department or few company colleagues have natural strength of innovation) but also artificial ways to increase immunity. Few of such artificial ways are continuously engaging colleagues in innovation events, providing everyone platform to learn and engage in creating new value or making it operationally better. For example SAP is doing a great job of establishing “Run Simple” strategy which is not just for R&D department but for all employees of SAP to create value for company with the strategy! It could be someone in SAP simplifying the business process, enabling customer with fiori application or cutting the process steps to optimize with the changes in the industries. SAP also engages well within company with providing colleague with various innovation events such as DKOM – Developer Kick Off event, WTH (What the Hack!), Demo Day etc… which helps in diffusing the innovation across the globe for SAP. Other part of building the immune system is to involve the partner system. Once again company provides various platforms for partners and customers to engage such as SAPPHIRE and TechEd. These events help employee, partner and customer to engage into innovation with SAP Technology and help everyone grow together.

Is it enough innovation already? If we go by the analogy of body immunity, it is never ever enough. Like we take care of body immunity by having healthy diet and at times use external resources to keep our immunity intact. Similar should be plan for the company to keep the company going stronger we must continue investing into innovation. We must continue and do more in case we see company getting impacted with the external environment. This is one part of the investment which should continue to remain years upon years for companies to survive the worse and emerge as leaders!

The investment for innovation is necessary for diffusion of innovation as immunity across the company. The diffusion is possible as following:

  • Talking about innovation (sessions, talks, group discussion, etc..)
  • Conducting the innovation event.
  • Creating an innovation platform across company, customer and partners.
  • Rewarding individuals for innovation.
  • Engaging colleague students.


(This might not be the complete list; intention is to start thinking upon these and many more…)

Companies such as SAP has developed HCP (HANA Cloud Platform) which encourages partners, students or anyone to create innovative solution on the top of HANA platform. It also provides HANA Marketplace for application developer to publish the application. This is a proven that no one company can provide all, it requires efforts from many to develop solutions across industry and such platform does come handy in succeeding in same.

It is important that employee do realize the concept of “Innovation as Immunity” and participate within innovation events or talk or strategy also to help the company. This would build individual career in turn career immunity for individual too!

Keep innovating to build immunity for the company!

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