When we think of innovation, most often we start to envisage brand new technologies and products that have been developed from first principles – most recently, exciting new bio-technologies developed to provide the raft of vaccines being used to fight the ongoing spread of Covid-19.
But much of innovation stems from finding exciting new applications of existing, and in some cases ancient, concepts to provide new sources of value.
Take a product that (until 2020 and the decline in business travel) many of us used on a regular basis – the roller suitcase. We’ve all had to transport these up and downstairs or from the overhead bin, wondering how anyone managed to carry suitcases without wheels any reasonable distance – but that must have been a long time ago, right?
In fact, the “rollaboard” travel bag was only invented in 1987, by a pilot who saw the opportunity to improve luggage for airline staff & frequent flyers. The oldest “technology” – wheels, being added to a suitcase seems obvious now, but it was only a few decades ago that it was applied by someone who saw the design issue and business opportunity in adding these to luggage.
In a more recent example, technologies such as GPS location, first developed for military use, have been fused with power management technologies to now power mapping and exercise tracking applications for everyday consumers.
If we look at even older “technology” being applied to solve new design challenges, the topic of biomimicry emerges – the field of leveraging solutions that have evolved in the natural world and applying these to new design challenges. A famous example is modeling bullet train noses on the shape of bird beaks, reducing noise and potential damage at high speeds by borrowing aerodynamic designs which evolved over millions of years.
In the digital transformation space, the application of concepts from one industry to another is a great source of innovation.
In the case of SAP, our work with the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies in ensuring vaccine production is tracked throughout the cold chain is being considered for how grocery chains may track and communicate the source of different produce types to customers.
Innovations in the eXtended Reality space are leveraging smartphone technology to assist in industrial training processes, while our supply chain and business network solutions are being leveraged to help with bridging online product searches and bricks and mortar pickup locations.
Our Industry4.Now strategy supports the development of intelligent processes & products, initially for the discrete and process industries with respect to supply chains and manufacturing operations. Many of these concepts are also highly relevant to industries such as mining and power utilities, with SAP taking learnings and reapplying these to work with our customers to solve new business issues.
By having deep business process expertise across all major industries, SAP has developed solutions for specific business and technical challenges that can be applied in different contexts for our customers.
Through leveraging offerings such as the Business Technology Platform, companies can deploy these different solutions, tailored to their processes, incredibly quickly yet in a secure and compliant manner.
Our innovation teams are available and ready to work with your business to explore these exciting new applications, and how different technologies can be used to address different business issues.