Do homeowners make purchases decisions – such as windows, HVAC systems, and bath and kitchen layouts – on their own? Of course not! This is one reason why some people choose to build their home based on a fixed, yet flexible, design.

Similar logic can be applied when businesses innovate. Such projects may begin with a detailed blueprint of the technology landscape, organizational structure, and process layout. However, companies need to go even further by tapping into prebuilt software, the latest services, and proven expertise to transform in increments – allowing each delivered innovation to become a building block for the next one.

For many of our customers, this pragmatic approach is achievable through our innovation services, as part of the New SAP MaxAttention engagement model. I met with Anastasia Stauffenberg, senior innovation manager at SAP, to discuss how this service is changing how innovations are delivered with greater success than ever before.

Q: Innovation seems to be top of mind for most businesses. However, they all have a different view of what it means to innovate. What are the most common misconceptions about innovation?

A: Innovation is like building a house – it never stays the same. Rather than knocking it down and starting over again from scratch, homeowners tend to renovate their home incrementally over the years to address changes to their family and to fulfill their vision of a dream home.

Businesses often forget that innovation is an opportunity to look ahead for the next big thing in a structured way. Innovation is really a big journey of smaller changes built on top of earlier ones. It’s not a matter of turning a single idea into one outcome; it’s the blending of many ideas that creates sustainable competitive advantages and a foundation for continuous advancement.

This mindset has to be ingrained in their DNA, supported by an established methodology, a culture open to change, a set of complementary skills, and a flexible IT environment. More importantly, companies have to look from within to align innovation efforts with a long-term goal.

Q: How are our customers breaking through innovation obstacles faster than competitors with SAP Innovation Services?

A: Our services are designed to help our customers acquire a realistic innovation mindset and organizational structure at a very early stage. We prepare the groundwork for all kinds of topics that are important to the customer. For example, SAP Innovation Services can help lay the foundation for machine learning and move on-premise infrastructure to the cloud.

This experience allows customers to learn and apply new techniques, such as design thinking, to identify specific challenges and match them to their overall plans and strategic goals. With the findings from that assessment, customers can create a road map to set up their innovation factory, which helps navigate the full cycle of innovation and deliver competitive outcomes. Then, with access to our proven tools, they can visualize the right ideas and prototype those concepts for a future pilot and rollout.

Q: Can you explain how this level of guidance bridges the gap between short-term innovation and a more visionary approach?

A: A customer shared a truth that, to this day, resonates with me. He said, “Every year, technology providers and experts come up with at least three to four new software, digital trends, and buzzwords that we should consider. We know they are important topics, but we don’t understand how they fit into our goals, our culture, and our existing digital architecture.”

It’s this perception that inspired our innovation services. Our customers can sort out what these new technologies and user scenarios mean for their unique business operations, culture, and vision. They can integrate these midterm additions into their overall digital strategy in a way that accelerates and enhances their long-term transformation goals.

Although this exercise usually results in a long list of changes that can’t be done overnight, the outcomes are feasible, scalable, desirable, and viable. And above all, every decision-maker, stakeholder, and employee can better understand why adopting the chosen new technologies and processes makes sense.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll offer a real-world view of these focus topics that can help your business acquire the foundation and capabilities of an intelligent enterprise. Bookmark the series landing page and check it each week. In the meantime, read our overview of the New SAP MaxAttention program, “Customer Success for the Intelligent Enterprise,” to discover the opportunities ahead for your business. Feel free to reach out to us for more information at maxattention@sap.com.

Christian Leja is director of Solution Marketing for SAP MaxAttention. Follow him on LinkedIn.
Anastasia Stauffenberg is senior innovation manager. Follow her on LinkedIn.