Why We Need Centralised Innovation Platforms

In the early 2000s, I remember how after a lengthy customer pitch, a customer would ask the cynical question, “Can this system make me a coffee in the morning?” Was it just their polite way of saying that the price was too high, or the solution is too sophisticated for their business? At that point, the Executive would try to summarise a 2-hour pitch into a 5 minute comeback, only for the meeting to end in complete disarray. I marveled always at how something trivial like making a cup of coffee had anything to do with the capabilities of an IT solution.

Moving ahead 15+ years, technology has leaped the traditional boundaries and given birth to connected things, super-fast computing, and artificial intelligence, to name a few. Not only in the corporate world – these advancements have changed the way we live out our daily lives. Intelligent consumer electronics, such as Google Home, Bosch Connected Home and Philips Hue are but a few of the household gadgets available today that have changed the way in which we carry out even the most mundane tasks at home . . . even making that cup of coffee!

From turning the lights on with your mobile phone to finding out what’s on television by asking SIRI, connected devices facilitate automation. In the business world, IoT and other forms of innovation have typically been implemented as a standalone island, disconnected from the real business and the associated business activities, and seldomly provide the promise of improved automation and productivity. In my opinion, these situations are attributed to the lack of capabilities (and skills) to inter-connect devices and business processes through a common and secure platform. Let’s use the coffee example to demonstrate this point.

With a modern smart coffee machine, I can use an app on my smartphone to programme the time I want a fresh pot of coffee brewed, the intensity, etc. But what this appliance cannot do on its own is know the precise time I get out of bed to ensure my coffee is brewed to perfection.

So let’s bring my smart watch into this scenario. My smart watch knows when I am sleeping based on my heart rate monitor; it can also tell whether I am moving around or lying still in bed with a step counter.

If I am able to connect my smartphone into a common, interconnected system that provides tools for storing large volumes of data, analytical and statistical modelling capabilities, and connectivity to any device, then I can also connect my smart coffee machine to this same system and take things to a whole different level. Using the smartphone data, I can easily determine the exact time I get out of bed (the time at which I take my first step). I also know the number of steps and geo location before I head off into the kitchen for my morning coffee (the time when my coffee needs to be ready). My sleep patterns and hours of sleep can be used to predict the optimum intensity of coffee. I can now automatically switch on my smart coffee machine at the exact time to ensure a perfectly hot pot of coffee with the right level of caffeine intensity to give me that perfect start to the day.

Whilst this is a super-cool idea to make things automated and seamless at home, imagine the possibilities of this in an enterprise world.  The evolution of connectivity, big data management, analytics, and cloud technology is enabling us to converge operational and information technologies such as IoT, machine learning, advanced analytics etc to make machines smarter and drive end to end digital transformation. SAP Leonardo is uniquely positioned to provide highly secure and innovative IoT services which extend business processes with adaptive applications, big data applications and connectivity to enable, truly digitized business processes, new business models and new work environments.

So, the next time a client asks “Can this system make me a coffee in the morning?”. Just politely answer “Yes it can”.