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The holy grail of innovation in today’s Digital Era

Innovation is the lifeblood of any company in an era of disruption.

In the fourth industrial revolution, we are facing several shifts, from technology to social changes, in a pace we have never seen before. This provides us with challenges and endless opportunities at the same time.

Innovation is often seen as the key to maneuver this exciting road, but innovation can be costly and risky, and getting it right is usually not easy. Innovative businesses seem to be effortlessly turning creativity into value in a way that is not easy to replicate as in many cases there is no structured approach to innovation and it is not enough to just talk about it.

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.

“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

From Ernest Hemmingway’s novel, The Sun Also Rises (1926)


Identifying the foundation for innovation is key

Often ignored, knowledge enables the world to innovate. In the Digital Economy, where the only certainty is change, the one source of lasting competitive advantage is knowledge and skills. While companies are looking to keep pace with their competition, 64 percent of respondents to a recent IDT survey said they do not have the resources with the skills necessary for digital transformation. Skills and lifelong learning are the key enablers for innovation adoption and form the foundation for effectively executing digital strategies.

By 2020, one in five core skills will be different, and complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity are viewed among the Top 5 most needed skills, according to the World Economic Forum. This is an important change in the nature of work and needs to be taken seriously by individuals and organizations alike.


Challenging innovation is not as difficult as most believe

Taking a look at what makes innovative businesses so successful, it is the integration of innovation methodologies into their strategies and building an environment for continuous disruption; celebrating success or failure alike. Integrating these methodologies mean their workforces are enabled to use innovation tools and skills and hereby continuously embrace change from within the organization.

When design principals are applied to strategy or innovation, the success-rate of innovation dramatically improves. A recent study has shown that over the last decade, companies that embraced design thinking and similar methodologies (such as Coca Cola, Apple, Procter and Gamble or SAP) have outperformed the SMP500 with over 200%. Design Thinking is a methodology for creative resolution of problems of all kinds. When product designers are creating a new product, they go through a number of iterations of several phases. Discovery, Brainstorming, Prototyping and Testing. Why not apply this to more than just product management?

This remarkable success has not gone unnoticed and has put Design Thinking at the core of strategy development and organizational change management. Organizations across the world are empowering themselves to have their own innovation labs and departments. Some even have Chief Innovation Officers on the board.


Living innovation – a success story from a Design Thinking pioneer

Innovation methods have a strong history at SAP - especially Design Thinking, where the journey started back in 2004 with Hasso Plattner, one of SAP’s founders, funding the first Design Thinking school at Stanford university (d.school) and then bringing 35 Design Thinkers into SAP to help make design thinking a strategic priority and driving innovation across the entire organization. Once teams and executives saw the power of the problem-solving and empathetic approach, Design Thinking spread across many internal groups. Since then, it is lived at SAP every single day, internally and with customers and partners to provide a unique approach for problem finding and problem solving with a focus on human meaning and empathy.

In December at the World Open Innovation Conference 2016 in Barcelona, SAP received the Business Model Transformation Award for its ability to disrupt itself to drastically restructure its own model. SAP’s Business Model Innovation (BMI) team is a cross-board initiative whose sole mission is to pursue the right business models faster and provide in-house entrepreneurs (“intrapreneurs”) an environment that allows the fast and inexpensive incubation and market validation of new business models.


Building the confidence to innovate

Connecting to SAP long history of innovation leadership, and taking into consideration that many individuals and organizations still lack the necessary structured approach and the right tools to unleash their innovation potential, Winnovate was initiated.

Winnovate, powered by SAP, was born from a desire to fuel a movement of impactful innovation. It is a catalyst for enquiring minds that are open to ground-breaking thinking methodologies. The initiative offers collaborative learning opportunities and engaging programs based on various innovation methods and supports individuals and organizations alike. Winnovate empowers participants with a variety of tools and methodologies, that give the confidence to innovate. The programs are deeply rooted in Design Thinking, but augmented with other tools and methods such as Business Model Innovation or Lean Startup.

With this initiative, there are no more excuses for not putting innovation strategies and execution plans into place. The offerings are open to individuals and organizations within the SAP Ecosystem as well as beyond with the vision to accelerate innovation, without boundaries and for the sake of good.


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