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Author's profile photo Oliver Huschke

A New Twist on an Old Question About Innovation and the Race to Market Leadership

What business are we really in?” This one simple question asked by Theodore Levitt, renowned scholar and founder of modern marketing, more than a half-century ago continues to challenge how executives view their brand. In his classic Harvard Business Review article “Marketing Myopia,” Levitt argues that leaders with the courage, creativity, and self-discipline to consistently revisit this question are the ones who are truly effective in bridging the gap between a dying market and innovation that leads to flourishing consumer demand.

When we think about companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Netflix, and Uber, it’s easy to see the underlying principle of innovation in action. The disruptive influence of new digital platforms, algorithms, mobile devices, and analytics is not just transforming how enterprises operate internally, but how also helping consumers reimagine how things can be better, faster, and more convenient. In a few short years, we have gone from looking at a map to navigating electronically; from paying with physical checks to using a mobile app; and from heading to the local mall to ordering online for delivery.

The opportunity for digital innovation and transformation is everywhere; businesses just need to know where to look and quickly apply it before the world passes them by. But let’s face it: This level of change requires more than just the enthusiastic support of an executive. It requires technical skills, customer insight, creative problem-solving, and the ability to dream – all talents that are very rare to find without the right support.

It’s time for a different, yet reassuring, way to innovate

Although some companies are well on their way to reimagining traditional business models to open revenue streams and create differentiating user experiences, many more are challenged with bridging the gap between the present and the future and knowing where to begin. They need guidance, skills, and expertise with the latest technologies – and that’s precisely what SAP Leonardo Innovation Services provide.

This virtual lab in the cloud allows decision makers to identify and connect new business scenarios to enablement technologies so they can shorten time to market. With access to a content framework featuring ready-to-use technology use cases and modules, they can address key technology trends – such as user experience, enterprise mobility, Big Data insights, machine learning, the Internet of Things, enterprise collaboration, and technology integration – in four phases.

  1. Showroom

Companies that are not sure where to begin can use a virtual showroom to review a selection of innovation use cases and technology modules to gain inspiration for digital transformation. Decision makers can watch video demos, explore coding examples, and discover proven use cases made available from model company services. They can see exactly how industry peers are gaining value from digital technology, attain practical advice for solving daily operational struggles, and better understand how to achieve long-term business and industry transformation.

  1. Digital design zone

Once the business is inspired, the next step is to prototype the innovation. Technical and nontechnical can connect with a community of experts worldwide and engage in virtual design-thinking workshops. By targeting specific scenarios for improvement, they can quickly iterate a clickable proof of concept or prototype to share with decision makers and lead the path to a market-ready solution.

  1. Empowerment sessions

To take any innovation over the finish line, IT teams, innovators, and executives need to strengthen their understanding of the technology behind it. A blend of remote online training sessions, on-demand expertise, and hands-on experiences provide expert-guided knowledge transfer that can be incredibly empowering. Courses cover everything from an overview of cloud platforms, machine learning, and mobile development to integration, collaboration, and security.

  1. Innovation platform

With access to a service-enriched cloud platform, ready-to-use use cases, technology modules, and model company services, businesses gain a fast back-end connection that can help convert the innovation from prototype to production. An agile lab environment provides an opportunity to quick-start development without additional upfront investment.

While the enterprise edition of SAP Leonardo Innovation Services energizes such a holistic innovation journey, SAP also understands that not every company needs this level of support. As a result, there are two additional versions of SAP Leonardo Innovation Services that tailor the innovation experience to a business’s digital maturity.

  • SAP Leonardo Innovation Services, express edition, expedite efforts through predefined use cases for a particular technology scenario (such as the Internet of Things and machine learning) and industry. In less than eight weeks, customers can deploy the solution and customize it to address precise business needs and reduce time to value.
  • SAP Leonardo Innovation Services, open innovation edition, advances the creation of a new solution – from concept to clickable prototype – within nine weeks. Access to SAP Cloud Platform and close collaboration through the digital design zone support an agile design approach that helps ensure a customer-centric focus across every stage of innovation. What business are you really in?

Being crystal clear about what business you are in can prevent wasted time and money in bringing to market or adopting the wrong “next big thing.” With a methodical approach to digital transformation, innovators have the room necessary to test a proof of concept against a particular business or customer scenario and determine if the results are compatible with existing operational needs, perceived opportunities, or emerging risks. Then, all of these insights can be shared with decision makers to get buy-in, state a case for a new direction, or accelerate the development of a commercial or implementable solution.

So, what business are you in? Isn’t it time to answer this question with certainty?


Find further Information in the SAP Leonardo Innovation Services press release.

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