Application Development: Transforming Innovation Expectation Into Real Business Value

Klaus Weber

Whether they’re just getting started or leading a disruptive movement, most companies, in some capacity, are using a variety of technologies to support fast, agile, and precise operations. But this is only the beginning. According to IDC, investments in digital transformation initiatives will reach $1.7 trillion worldwide by the end of 2019 – a 42% increase when compared to 2017 spend.

Steadily, companies are growing more curious and reliant on cloud platforms, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, omnichannel commerce, the Internet of Things, mixed reality, and conversational bots to form a foundation of next-generation business models and ecosystems. And if the World Economic Forum’s Digital Transformation Initiative study is correct, these transformations may entirely or fundamentally shift the business model of one in three companies until 2020.

It’s becoming clear that businesses across all industries, sizes, and regions are dedicating significant chunks of time, money, and effort to redefine themselves with digital technology. But eventually, there’s a point where brand differentiation is difficult to achieve when every competitor is digitalizing and connecting the same things.

The hunt for the next big competitive advantage: “I’m looking for it, and I need to make it real”

To survive – let alone grow – in a world where virtually everything is being digitalized, businesses are transforming themselves at an unyielding, lightning-fast pace. And it’s not just competitors that are turning up the heat on digital transformation. Customers, business partners, and employees are contributing their share by demanding simpler, faster, and more personalized interactions – accessible anytime, anywhere, and through the channel and device of their choosing.

When we look at paragons of digital leadership such as Amazon, Netflix, Zappos, and Apple, it becomes clear that adopting the latest technologies helps them pull away from their competitors by widening the performance gap. They understand and expect that standard applications are designed to help jump-start the must-have capabilities for competing in the digital economy – and that their competitors can achieve the same. But when solving unique complex challenges, blazing disruptive trails, or bringing a new corporate vision to life, they also build new capabilities on top of standard platforms and technologies to deliver distinct value to their stakeholders.

From discovery to delivery, businesses can innovate and deliver tailored, high-value, fully maintained applications by following a streamlined, agile development process that includes:

  • Exploration workshops: Engaged in design thinking, innovators and their stakeholders tap into their curiosity and look beyond what they think is possible to discover opportunities that are valuable to the business and translate ideas into a first-design prototype.
  • Innovation sprints: This is where everything that’s been discovered can be used to zero in on the exact business need and direction. Research is conducted and concepts are created in a series of iterative innovation sprints to quickly devise journey maps that reflect user personas and profiles. Process and interaction flows are also validated with key users through storyboarding, and user interaction is tested with wireframes and mockups.
  • Innovation projects: During this phase, innovation concepts built during innovation sprints are transformed into productive solutions ready to be deployed in the cloud, on-premises, or in a hybrid environment and tightly integrated with the stable, core, standard solution. Through the flexibility and transparency of an agile development approach that consistently revolves around the user, innovators develop unique software solutions that use the latest technologies and generate new value early and often.
  • Services for support, continuous improvement, and operations: The business leverages the resources needed to protect and run their individualized solutions over the long term. They can choose the right deployment option that fits their needs and scales to their business and technical landscape. By taking advantage of the same unified support infrastructure and cloud operations centers as the software provider, the company can reap the benefits of increased operational stability, reduced operating costs, and better innovation cycles.

This agile, iterative development process helps businesses open up a competitive advantage that is truly unique, distinct, and disruptive. Through a flexible guided experience, innovative ideas and prototypes are quickly transitioned into real-life working systems.

Individualized innovation turns expectation into industry-disruptive leadership

The more digital our world becomes, the more everyone – from the plant worker on the shop floor to the executive in the boardroom – engages in curious thinking about the possibilities of technology. Every day, most people imagine how much easier life and work could be if they go beyond the basic functions of standard technology and design tailored solutions to optimize the value of goods, services, and user experiences.

To pick out the right innovative ideas and use them to achieve industry-disruptive leadership status, businesses must look beyond the boundaries of existing technology and uncover hidden insights and opportunities through collaborative discovery and ideation. From there, sparks of inspiration can be converted into real solutions that accelerate the delivery of superior customer service, fulfillment of company goals, and achievement of a long-term vision.

Discover how the SAP Innovative Business Solutions organization can help your business find its unique competitive advantage. Visit, and read our announcement.

Klaus Weber

About Klaus Weber

Klaus Weber is executive vice president and general manager of SAP Innovative Business Solutions, which empowers visionary enterprises to achieve their greatest goals through unique, leading-edge software innovation. Weber has more than 25 years of SAP experience in developing innovative products and leading organizations that deliver high-quality client-focused solutions that translate business needs into solutions that deliver real business value.