Tag: innovation

Innovation brings the future closer

Across the world, cities are constantly looking for new ways to improve service delivery and enhance living and working ecosystems for citizens. It’s no surprise that many consider digital technology to be the ideal methodology to help deliver new public services, address existing problems, and reshape citizen engagement.

Digital technology holds the key to the successful transformation of cities. It can accelerate and enable economic prosperity and commerce, improve safety and security, and make a real impact on the quality of life for citizens.

According to the World Bank Report on Digital Citizen Engagement, the use of new media communication technologies presents exciting opportunities to improve communication between citizens and government institutions.

“Most of the cities’ operational processes are not citizen-centric. They are structured for the physical world and lack the human touch. It is clear that digital technology is shaping the way government engages with communities and can help cities in addressing or managing issues around service delivery,” comments Lawrence Kandaswami, MD, SAP South Africa.

Innovation forces public sector institutions to think differently about how to provide services, how citizens consume and share information, and how to engage with citizens. This requires an innovative digital platform with the relevant digital tools to meet all these needs and serve citizens better. SAP Digital Core for cities focuses on all these aspects and more. The technology is designed to help cities prosper, improve safety and security, and become more resilient.

How can technology help cities become more resilient?
One of the challenges that cities face is managing natural disasters such as floods. In many cases, drains get blocked due to the volume of heavy rains, creating blockages that prevent the rapid and safe diversion of the storm water. “With the help of technology, cities can now use digital technology to manage these risks. For example, by installing sensors in the drain system, the city can monitor water levels, detect any malfunction in the drains and allocate resources in real time to remedy the situation, before it hits disaster levels. The city of Dubai provides another good customer case study on resilience and saving projects costs,” explains Kandaswami.

Helping cities transition to digital transformation
Digital transformation allows cities to tap into their own data and transform that data into meaningful business insights and decisions. The use of technology can help cities to interpret, understand, plan, prioritise, and target specific problem areas to find the right solution. When we think about constituent engagement, the first thing to remember is that it’s not one-dimensional. Increasing numbers of citizens may want a digital channel – but that’s not every citizen. Innovation brings a new level of engagement with a digital experience. This means more citizens can take advantage of self-service functionality, instead of standing in long queues to pay for services.

Economic prosperity is every city’s ideal goal

The use of digital technology enables cities to engage citizens and service providers to help cities understand challenges like transport flow management, scheduling of resources, and budget allocations. Engaged citizens can communicate better with government and exchange important information that could help cities improve service delivery.

“SAP technology is a relevant digital option for cities because citizens need simple choices. The technology puts citizens at the heart of how a service is delivered, presented, and consumed. It is designed with the “Future Cities” in mind to take cities through the journey of digital transformation. Today’s citizens are looking for personalised services that are easily accessible. Citizens and government engagement should be part of the operational process with clear collaboration plans for the sustainability and economic prosperity of cities.” concludes Kandaswami.

Innovation could lead to business failure

Kodak is famous for being the inventors of the digital camera technology, yet were completely bankrupted by digital cameras. The same could be possible within your business innovation initiatives if you don’t learn and apply the following lesson from Kodak’s failure.

A quick take on Kodak

Kodak did invent the technology behind digital cameras and had it available to use. Instead, they chose to focus on innovating their film technology. Obviously once digital cameras hit mainstream and especially mobile phones, the need for actual film disappeared overnight.

One-directional innovation

Kodak had no lack in new innovations. But the problem was that their focus was more on the innovations that served their current business model, your incremental business innovation. They tried to maintain the current business model probably hoping it would run forever. But few things last forever.

Why innovation could let your business fail like Kodak

I have worked with and spoken to many companies following this approach to business innovation. Yes, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. It is important to innovate your current products and business model. If there is still a few billion dollars left in the market, why not. Even a few millions dollars too. But what about the future? What does the future look like? How do we strike a balance between business innovation in present and the future?

Corporate ambidexterity is what is needed

What you need are two business innovation initiatives. The one focused on the current business model and the other on future revenue streams and alternate business models. At first it may not make sense. However, this is something I learnt in the dating game. I cannot date two people at the same time and the same goes for innovation departments that has to serve the present and the future.

The processes, timelines and more are different for innovating current products than for new products. The KPI’s and reporting structures are also different. Good reason to split the two. You might raise the question of increased cost and yes, I will look at that in a later article, but you have to ask yourself, do you risk ending up like Kodak?

Some questions to ask yourself

Does your market change quickly or slowly? Even if it does change slowly, you need to look at outside forces. Nokia thought phones will remain and they will always tell the networks what they can and cannot do. That changed overnight with Apple.

Are you very price sensitive? Look at the oil price. If you only have fossil fuels in your product stable, chances are you are having potatoes and not a steak dinner now.

Are the barriers to entry high or low in your market? If low, then you could wake up being extinct one morning.

I am not going into a full PEST analysis now (Political, Economical, Social, Technological). But it is handy to ask these things when you are setting up your innovation department.

By Willem Gous for BizCommunity

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