On the latest episode of The Best Run Podcast, we welcomed back SAP’s Innovation Evangelist and passionate advocate of digital transformation, Timo Elliott. Travelling from Paris to present at the Gartner Data and Analytics Conference, Timo returned to the studio to discuss the disruptions and technology innovations that businesses are facing in our Post-COVID era.
After businesses were embroiled by operational disruptions throughout the height of the pandemic, Timo has now reflected on his observations and found that his mission to continue encouraging innovation has naturally become embedded in businesses future. “With unprecedented times came vastly accelerated innovation in order to survive.”
Speaking to Decathlon’s Chief Value Officer, “Nothing is impossible anymore” is simple the new business experience in light of the innovation that has become possible. The downside to this journey stemmed from the elevated pace that businesses were required to innovate, and in turn, ended up doing so in silos.
“I recently saw some data from International Data Corporation (IDC) that showed, a couple of years ago, 75% of organisations were innovating with a strategic approach, leaving the remaining 25% who were innovating in silos. Unfortunately, those numbers have changed. Organisations innovated in a silo because they didn’t have time to do it in a more strategic way, and now the number of organisations that have a strategic approach has dropped to 50%. So, unfortunately, there’s lots of innovation, but because of all these new silos, it’s actually harder to do even more innovation in the future.”
With these results in mind, analysts are in agreement that to innovate both at a faster pace and with strategic efficiency, there needs to be a solid information foundation coupled with a flexible set of building blocks. What the pandemic shone a light on was an atmosphere of uncertainty experienced by organisations which can be combated with flexibility, agility and the technology foundations to support it. Those organisations that weren’t able to adapt or differentiate themselves unfortunately were forced to fold.
“I think one of the key takeaways, I hope, is that some organisations were a little complacent about needing to innovate. Why innovate? My business is stable. I don’t need to do anything differently. Instead, that thinking is a little bit like standing on a down escalator. You’re slowly moving backwards compared to the rest of the environment. In order to stay still in modern business, you have to be walking up the down escalator. You have to put effort in because the environment around you is evolving. Customers have higher demands, your employees have new expectations, your competitors are upping their game, so you have to do a certain amount of innovation just to stay still.”
Asked on where organisations should begin their innovation efforts, Timo reminds us that because of a high investment in technology solutions that automate the time consuming parts of day to day operations, there’s a new wave of solutions such as a low-code, no-code solutions. How do accelerate innovation this way? By letting business employees do more of the innovative work themselves in their area of expertise without IT and technology being a bottleneck.
Speaking to a customer, they explained to Timo that his ‘knowledge workers’ know exactly what’s going wrong in the business and they know what should be done to fix it, but they feel powerless. “They feel like they’re at the mercy of the machine because they can’t fix it themselves. All they can do is point it out to a technology team, but that team don’t have enough time, there’s never enough resources, there’s always a backlog. So, the answer is no, we can’t. Now, these new tools are becoming really powerful, where business people can create their entire applications, workflows, analytics and do it all themselves.”
There are always some dangers to be aware of with implementing solutions like these, where if you let anybody in your business become involved in the technology, the result is probably going to be chaos. “Not everybody’s ready to be enabled. Everybody’s gonna recreate the wheel and get calculations wrong.
So the right approach is not low-code or no-code or pro-code, but co-code where you have a combination of the technology teams putting in place the Lego bricks that reflects the different objects of the business like a customer or an invoice and so on. Employees can then take those blocks and use them, change the order and wire them up in different ways, and have different authorisations and so on in the knowledge that they’re going to do that in a way that isn’t gonna be damaging for the system it’s gonna be scalable, it’s gonna be compliant, follow all of the security laws and so on.”
To hear more from this discussion, dive deeper into business innovation projects and hear more from Tim about his technology predictions for the future, listen to the full episode of The Best Run Podcast here.