Putting the Business Back Into Business Innovation

Everybody wants to innovate faster, to be more agile, to be able to react quickly to changes in today’s uncertain business environments. So how do organizations do that?

The future is enabled by technology, but it’s not about the technical infrastructures: it’s about optimizing end-to-end processes, business capabilities, and business ecosystems. So innovation has to mean business! — business process, business context, business content, and business empowerment.

Business Process

The industry analysts all have a similar vision of what that agile future of business looks like. Gartner calls it the Composable Enterprise, for example – it’s about having a solid information foundation that enables fast and flexible creation of what they call composable applications that allow you to create new applications and workflows by just bringing together modular components.

And that’s where SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) comes in. It’s not just a technology toolbox, it’s a platform designed to accelerate innovation and unleash your business potential. It’s all about the “B” in BTP: it provides a business-focused set of services, across one or more of your strategic cloud hyperscalar partners.

SAP BTP brings together data and analytics, artificial intelligence, application development, automation, and integration in one, unified environment. And SAP has been in the business of business transformation for over 50 years. We have deep experience about best practices for end-to-end business processes, across any different industries and lines of business around the globe.

Business Context

Most innovation platforms make you rip the data out of your existing applications and move it to some another environment—a data warehouse, or data lake, or data lake house or data cloud—before you can do any innovation.

But that’s like ripping a tree out of the forest and trying to get it to grow elsewhere. You lose the roots: the metadata, the hierarchies, the security, the business context of the data. It’s possible, but you have to recreate all that from scratch in the new environment, and that takes time and effort, and hugely increases the possibility of data quality and other governance problems.

Taking your data out of your enteprise applications to do innovation is like ripping a tree out of a forest and trying to get it to grow elsewhere — you lose the roots, all the business context.

Thanks to the cloud, there’s now a better way: we can bring technology to the data rather than the other way around.

The analysts call this a data mesh or data fabric strategy. It’s a more federated approach where each domain area provides operational and analytic “data products” that provide reliable information sources that be combined on the fly to create those new composable applications.

These new architectures don’t just rely on data exported as simple tables and columns: the connections are based on the business semantics, the business context. Using techniques such as data orchestration, we can connect to data rather than collect it, and keep business processes at the heart of innovation. The end result is that business people get the data and innovation they need, where they need it—as an integral part of your existing business workflows—without wasteful and costly data duplication and reinterpretation.

Business Content

If you really want to accelerate innovation, technology isn’t enough. SAP BTP includes predefined best-practice integrations, templates, data models, analytics content, a library of automation bots, and much much more. And we have the richest business ecosystem of partners in the industry, who have built a vast catalog of solutions on top of SAP BTP.

So whatever systems you need to connect to, whatever user interfaces you need, and whatever the actions you need to take, you’ll almost certainly find somebody who has already faced and overcome the challenges you’re about to embark on.

Why pointlessly reinvent the wheel when you can get a jump start using the best of what others have already achieved?

Business Empowerment

We have an amazing opportunity to accelerate innovation by letting business people do more of it themselves, in their area of expertise, without IT and technology being a bottleneck.

Gartner believes that “business technologists” are the future of innovation—people that weren’t hired for their IT skills but who end up using technology as part of their role—and Gartner says that they will be responsible for the vast majority of innovation inside organizations in the near future.

What changed? Well, there have always been power users, of course. But and new cloud-based low-code and no-code products have become easier to use and more powerful. Business people can now create their own full end-to-end workflows, their own composable applications.

The rise of the “purple people” that have both business and IT skills — analysts say that they will be responsible for up to 80% of business innovation in the next few years…

But there are dangers. Without the right controls, you can end up with chaos, and non-compliant, insecure solutions that don’t scale. And that’s where SAP has a big advantage: we really understand the requirements of real-world enterprise systems, in terms of governance, compliance, security, scalability, and lifecycle management.

SAP BTP helps organizations combine the best of no-code and pro-code: IT can reuse all the business context that’s already in the SAP systems to create the “blocks” — customer, or invoice, or headcount, or actions like “purchase product” or “ship to customer”. Then the business people can simply drag and drop those blocks to create flexible applications, without having to understand where the data is coming from or how it’s calculated, and IT can be reassured that everything is secure and compliant.

Business Opportunity

The bottom line is that we all know that technology is an incredibly important part of modern business—so having the right technology platform can make a big difference. Digital business platforms are the fastest-growing sector of the software market today, and SAP BTP is one of SAP’s fastest growing solution areas.

To find out more, and start testing and using the platform for free, visit sap.com/btp