Digital Revolution Mandate: Innovate Or Die

Pat Saporito

Every industry is inundated by the tsunami of mobile, Big Data, the Internet of Things, and the cloud. To stay relevant, organizations need to interact with and respond to customers, partners, suppliers, and other stakeholders in real time. We need to not only react to, but also anticipate their needs and continually upgrade our abilities to engage, supported by data, analytics, and technologies with an innovation mindset. Few organizations have the resources to develop these capabilities by themselves.

Many are responding with research and development labs or innovation centers, and some even with their own venture capital funds to identify and partner with technology startups. They have named chief innovation officers to lead innovation and make sure that innovation efforts are strategically aligned with their corporate strategy and goals and are more than just think tanks. But naming a chief innovation or analytics officer will only take you so far. Effective innovation requires organization, culture, and technologies.


  • Strategic alignment: Align your innovation strategy with your business strategy. Secure senior management buy-in and communicate business results with an Innovation Scorecard to ensure continued funding.
  • Governance: Develop a formal innovation group with clear scope and roles. Define and publish innovation charter, scope, processes, and guidelines.


  • Immersion: include innovation as a core capability; make it part of your organizational DNA. Include as an objective in every employee’s annual performance plan.
  • Incentives and recognition: Provide incentives and rewards for innovation. Recognize innovation and value attained via the Innovation Scorecard. Create an Innovation Community of Interest for ongoing communication and collaboration.

Tools and technologies

  • Methodologies: Adopt innovation design methods like design thinking to evolve to a stakeholder-centric (customer, partner, etc.) mindset instead of a product-centric one.
  • Technologies: Develop a technology innovation sandbox to try new applications and technologies. Take advantage of Cloud applications and environments for agility.

Innovation is fast becoming a critical table stake. Organizations cannot survive, let alone grow, without an innovation mandate. Be creative; be agile; be quick. Create pilots. You don’t need to do it all by yourself. Collaborate with current vendors in co-innovation; participate in their advisory councils; engage in beta testing of new technologies. Research and engage with startups as well. The innovation race is on!

For more on this subject, see my series on BI Competency Centers. And join the conversation here, or by following me on  Twitter at @PatSaporito.

Pat Saporito

About Pat Saporito

Pat Saporito is a senior director, Global Center of Excellence for Analytics and Analytics Strategy Program Leader at SAP.  She helps customers across industries develop a business and value-driven analytics strategy. Pat has 20+ years in data warehousing and analytics. She is an insurance industry analytics expert and author of the book, Applied Insurance Analytics (FT Press/Pearson). She is on advisory board for Stevens Institute of Technology’s Big Data and Analytics Masters Program and a mentor with the Global Insurance Accelerator an incubator for Insure Tech startups.