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Part 1: “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” 
W.Churchill

When we think about businesses in times of cloud computing, big data, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence or design thinking, a buzz word comes to our mind: Digital Transformation. For many companies, it is an era of rapid change, of new ideas that evolve into products and of agility in business models and habits. Fueled by the technological advances, innovation cycles become shorter. In most cases, this transformation is a process which needs support by an armada of experts. Joint effort and partnership become more and more crucial: collaboration and co-innovation are no longer theories for business academics, but are key to success. In this blog series, partners will share their views and experience.

Let me share some insights of SAP partners on different aspects around digital innovation: What challenges did they face? What is their credo in terms of starting something new, being ahead of the mainstream and taking a certain risk with innovation in order to achieve digital Transformation?

 

Sodales and maihiro are leading customer transformation with new applications based on the SAP Cloud Platform and are successfully bringing innovations with new digital products and ideas to the market. Whether it is transforming sales/marketing processes, human resources or health and safety management, they are creating digital innovations that make rapid changes possible for companies all over the globe. They have proven to be agile and ahead of others due to an open and creative mindset of their leaders and employees.

Today, I would like to share an interview with Sana Salam from Sodales, while next week, you can learn about Timo Simon’s experience from maihiro. Let me first introduce Sana Salam, a thought leader who certainly has a start-up spirit, and give you an example of her innovations.

Sana Salam is the president and founder of Sodales Solutions, winner of this year’s SAP Pinnacle Award for Innovation – a software company located in Toronto, which has many customer references demonstrating that innovation is relevant for today’s fast paced Marketplace. To give an example: Sodales Solutions leveraged the Swiss elevator company Schindler to a new level in their employees’ health and safety management with a ready-to-deploy Safety Extension App, offered through the SAP App Center.

 

INTERVIEW

Let me start with a personal question:

What keeps you up at night? Is it new product ideas; the question which technology you should invest in; thoughts about which investors to find for your innovations or how to convince new customers about a product innovation?

Sana: All of the above. Building a company is not a linear process. It’s all linked together. We have to innovate in order to differentiate ourselves. We also need these innovations to drive value for our customers. The value creation process itself generates revenue for us. According to a famous quote by Bill Gates, “IP has a lifetime of a Banana”. Innovation is not a one time step. Innovation needs to be a continuous process.

What are the challenges you face in this digital economy when it comes to transforming an idea into a real product, which is scalable and sells?

Sana: The number one challenge is to find an idea that is scalable, fills up a white space and affordable to implement for customers. Businesses change fast and their needs are very volatile. Most customers have a 6-months outlook of what they really need so they are looking for agility. This agility is achieved by providing them exactly what they need in the moment of their business need. As a company, we want to create revenue-generating products that customers need as opposed to the products that customers “would” need. With this kind of model, our biggest challenge is really to invest in the right idea at the right time.

How has your company changed or adopted itself in order to create innovation and to being agile?

Sana: It all starts with hiring the right people who have the passion for technology and art. Creating innovations is a divine process. It requires a new way of thinking. “Technology“ only is not enough. When we hire people, we look for a diverse set of traits such as art, writing, technology, music etc. We look for people who are great individual contributors. Most importantly, we look for people who are passionate about life, have dealt with uncertainty in their past and enjoy the process of experimentation.

My last question of this blog is a very personal one again:

What is your belief and your personal handling, when it comes to using and implementing digital appliances in your life? Is your house as smart as it can be, or do you still open the door with a key that if you lose it, you have to replace the lock?

Sana: Not at all. I do like to use apps for communicating with my family and friends. When it comes to personal life, I really enjoy disconnecting from technology and take a break from constant activity. This gets the juices flowing and fuels up my creativity. This is just my personal choice.

Thank you, Sana, for your time and insights.

If you want to hear more in this context, check out next week’s blog with Timo Simon’s views (maihiro) on digital innovation.

 


 

Ulrike Fempel is a book author and a senior business development manager with over 20 years of global experience in IT. Recognized as significant driver by peers, management as well as partners, she has a passion for sciences.

 

For more information about SAP Cloud Platform, please relate to the following links:

  • SAP Cloud Platform general product and pricing information for partners and customers.
  • Blog post by Bjoern Goerke, CTO at SAP and President of SAP Cloud Platform on the SAP Cloud Platform.
  • SAP App Center: the SAP digital marketplace where customers can buy solutions directly from SAP Partners.
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