How to Solve the Right Problems as an Intelligent Enterprise

Your organization is greater than the sum of its parts, so you should seek solutions that improve business outcomes across the organization. Solving specific, enterprise-wide business problems with cutting-edge technology is the essence of an intelligent enterprise.

“Becoming an intelligent enterprise is really about looking at every process across the enterprise, and applying intelligent technologies in the right places,” Mike Flannagan, senior vice president of analytics and SAP Leonardo, said in a video at SAPPHIRE NOW . “Sometimes that may be things like machine learning; and sometimes it might be connecting devices with IoT; sometimes it may be using blockchain to secure a set of transactions.”


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SAP Leonardo intelligent technologies can help frontline workers and the c-suite tackle their distinct challenges in a single solution.

First Things First

“The SAP team that was working with us … lived the experience in our stores; they saw the process end-to-end,” retail giant Liverpool’s Ina Flores said during SAP Leonardo Now at SAP Labs Latin America this month. “And with it, they saw the needs of our customers — this is very important for us.”

Liverpool had myriad issues that needed solving, according to Flores, who is responsible for the Mexico City-based department store chain’s delivery and logistics. Innoweeks — an SAP Labs Latin America contest that teams up SAP users and partners with university students and SAP experts to co-innovate and solve a real-world business problem — helped people from all over Liverpool agree on which critical enterprise-wide business problem to address.

“Identifying the right business problem to solve always has to come first,” SAP’s Flannagan said. “The worst thing ever is to do a big project; get to the end of it; deliver something; pat yourself on the back — and have everybody in the business say, ‘Who cares?’”

But aligning your frontline workers with your c-suite is no easy task. So how do we get, say, shop floor workers to see eye-to-eye with the CEO?

Get a Room

Both our shop floor worker and our CEO would love to take on more productive work, but each is saddled with routine tasks — be it a repetitive manufacturing movement — or dealing with cost control, instead of finding new ways to increase top-line revenue. Design thinking workshops from SAP get people from across the enterprise in a room together for a three-step process, which creates problem-solving solutions.

“This process of discover, design, and deliver adds a lot of value for the organization because often — during discover — there are segments of the company who’ve never talked to each other before,” Matheus Souza, innovation lead at SAP Labs Latin America, said at SAP Leonardo Now. “When they get together in the same room, one is able to understand the point of view of the other … achieving this synergy is very difficult via day-to-day activities.”

In one company, for example, the finance department had always blamed its woes on logistics, while logistics had always blamed finance, according to Souza. Yet neither side had ever reached out to the other before their design thinking workshop, which helped both sides reconcile and create a mutually beneficial solution.

“This is something new for SAP, working with … much more than technology,” Matheus Souza, Innovation Lead, SAP Labs Latin America, said at SAP Leonardo Now. “It involves designing the solution and understanding everything about the customer.”

Bringing People Together

Since your intelligent enterprise is more than the sum of its parts, create solutions that benefit as many colleagues as possible. Helping frontline workers — who are often the face of the brand to your individual customers — can also help your c-suite improve the big picture.

“It’s not just about designing something that works for the end user — or about designing something that works for the senior executive,” SAP’s Flannagan said. “It’s about finding the problem that senior executive cares about for business reasons … and the guy on the shop floor cares about from a day-to-day workflow reason.

“So if you can bring those two together, now you’ve got a problem that everybody agrees is the right one to focus on,” he continued. “Those are the really cool problems to solve.”

Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher.