Like many fans across the globe, I have been anxiously awaiting the premiere of “The Last Jedi,” the next installment in the “Star Wars” saga. As I revisit some of the key themes and story lines throughout the previous eight movies, I can’t help but see correlating sentiment in the wise words of Master Yoda or laughing at the witty pessimism of Han Solo when looking at how the “Star Wars” movies relate to our current digital revolution.
We are living in an age where technology is expanding and transforming at a rapid pace – connecting us, challenging us, and providing promise for a future that, as a young man watching these beloved science fiction movies, I thought was only possible in a galaxy far, far away.
In my current role at SAP, I’m lucky in that I get to see many of the impossible dreams come to life on a daily basis – from IoT connections to artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality, many of the future-looking innovations depicted on the Millennium Falcon and Death Star are becoming present realities for enterprises in the digital age.
In reflecting on this, I realized that much of the advice – and for that matter, the skepticism – presented in the “Star Wars” movies is eerily similar to the words I hear wandering through the halls and meeting rooms here at SAP. Here are a few that come to mind for me:
“You can’t stop the change, any more than you can stop the suns from setting.” — Shmi Skywalker
For many enterprises today, the fear of change can often be a huge setback when it comes to digital transformation. However, change is evitable, as echoed by Shmi Skywalker in the Phantom Menace. To stay competitive, companies must look for ways to embrace disruption and innovation to propel their business forward.
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” — Master Yoda
Yoda had a thousand years of wisdom and a brutal honesty that enterprises today should keep in mind as they take the steps needed to transform business processes for the digital age. As part of the S/4HANA Cloud team at SAP, we often see the fear of change described by Shmi keep enterprises from fully making a commitment to the cloud. In adopting a cloud strategy, for example, companies need to fully embrace cloud transformation in order to reap the benefits.
“Well, if droids could think, there’d be none of us here, would there?” — Obi-Wan Kenobi
This quote from Obi-Wan seems especially relevant in the current societal moment, where much buzz has been made around the fear of robots replacing humans in the workforce. While AI technology is making huge strides to improve efficiency by streamlining processes and removing the need for repetitive, mundane tasks, it is not a threat to people’s jobs, but rather an opportunity to develop. As Obi-Wan rightly points out, the paramount power that humans hold over droids is our ability to critically think. By using AI to handle more routine tasks, enterprises can free up their workforce to be more creative and innovative when it comes to developing enterprise solutions – whether that be as grand as saving the galaxy, or a smaller success, like improving a business’ bottom line.
“The Force will be with you. Always.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi
In closing, I had to include the famous wise words of Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker. The “force” can be powerful in aiding the greater good, but it can also be corrupted into evil. While this might be a dramatic analogy for the enterprise setting, it is true that technology can be a powerful asset for businesses if it is implemented and applied with the right goals in mind from the outset. Where companies need to use caution is when technology is introduced without a distinct goal or purpose for how it will impact business outcomes – technology for technology’s sake.
Just as Jedi must train to learn the ways of the force to best recognize its power, enterprises must fully grasp the purpose of advanced technology applications and how it will drive their business forward before they will see an impact on business ROI.
Do any other “Star Wars” quotes come to mind for you when it comes to the enterprise journey? Let me know! And may the force be with you all.
For more insight on how advanced technology is transforming the enterprise, see The Holy Grail Of Innovation In Today’s Digital Era.