Concentrate On Tangible Innovation: Top 5 Best Practices Of Best-In-Class Digitalists, Part 4

Alexander Greb

Part 4 of the “Top 5 Best Practices” series exploring the mindset and methods leading to a successful journey to the digital enterprise 

This post is about the mutual understanding of two parties during a discussion about individual innovation aspects when implementing a digital core.

Side 1: Imagine you are an account executive, consultant, presaler or value engineer, or an internal-adopter-program lead, and your aim is to convince management of the benefits of the digital core or to define the innovation’s setup. Let’s skip the usual benefits discussion, and imagine that you are in a situation in which your audience wants to talk with you about innovation.

Side 2: As an interested adopter, you see that there are huge potential benefits. But let’s assume you are either a line-of-business lead or a C-level person who will immediately be asked for the added value of the innovation after this presumed workshop. And it’s not about being better at things that you are already doing, but being able to do things you were not able to do before.

So far so good, because in this situation a highly motivated digitalization evangelist meets a highly interested adopter to talk about a highly innovative aspect. What could go wrong?

Well, a lot.

Resist natural tendencies

It often happens that both parties leave the meeting with a mixed feeling, not because of the topic itself, but because you both made a typical mistake: One side wants to impress, the other wants to be impressed.

Therefore, you both are caught in the “bigger, better, faster, more” trap – because you failed to connect via tangible and credible toeholds for innovation strategies.

Here’s an example: One of the most impressive use cases that shows the power of a joint action between the digital core and next-generation analytics technologies is the digital boardroom. The digital boardroom is a dynamic real-time application that enables executives to find insights and address ad hoc questions. Believe me, whoever witnesses a demo of the digital boardroom leaves the presentation impressed and highly inspired.

But let’s take the side of the stakeholder, who is (for example) struggling to get his run through in a limited time frame because every user in his one-system, worldwide material resource planning landscape is asleep. Of course, he will also be impressed and inspired by the presentation; but those high-end scenarios should be a vision and guiding light for his whole digitalization effort. It is simply not the most urgent item on his list of priorities for a digital core implementation, nor would it be the first benefit he would want to attack.

In fact, just concentrating on those topics alone can be counterproductive and intimidating. They have their prominent place in your roadmap as the strategic vision, but they take time and effort and are not low-hanging fruit.

Focus on quick wins

Both parties should resist the urge to talk exclusively about the things that are spectacular, fun, thrilling, and awesome but not the first cake on the plate. I always try to put a certain emphasis on an aspect that I call “consumable innovations.” Those are the low-hanging fruit on the innovation tree and can be put into practice right at the time of going live or within the first year. And there are a lot of crops to harvest within the digital core.

Since it is a principle of motivation to start with goals that are quickly reachable and do good immediately, you should have a prominent slot in your conversation with your stakeholder for these consumable innovation items.

Putting all impressiveness and inspiration aside, in the end, it will bring more short-term value to an adopter to do the easier things, like capacity planning, immediately after going live. For example, the co-deployment of production planning and scheduling components within the digital core or using the digital core capabilities to work with scenarios and simulations can solve material shortages in real time.

Choose wisely

Whenever you are talking about innovation, keep a sound balance between inspirational innovation and consumable innovation. Proportion your prepared showcase portfolio, and as such, your innovation road map of your digital core implementation, to addres short- and mid- to long-term benefits that fit the individual situation of the adopter. Think about the individual specifics, and choose wisely from the broad portfolio of benefits the digital core offers.

Stay tuned for the final post in the “Top 5 Best Practices” series exploring the mindset and methods leading to a successful journey to the digital enterprise.

Alexander Greb

About Alexander Greb

Alexander Greb is customer advisory lead for ERP strategy in the Middle and Eastern European region at SAP and founder and host of the "SAP Experts Podcast," a leading global technology podcast. He has more than 15 years of processes and technology experience, serving as a consultant, program lead, and presales representative at various leading companies. Alexander is an expert in pitching and explaining the value of SAP S/4HANA and the concept of "Intelligent Enterprise" to SAP customers and partners in workshop and major events and conferences. As a passionate thought leader on sales strategies and methodologies, he not only shares his insights on his podcast, but also here on the Digitalist Magazine. Follow Alexander on LinkedIn.