Finding inspiration for innovation
Innovation is key for any company, but where do you look for inspiration?
At SAP, executives pay attention to research coming out of universities, venture capitalist investment areas and startup companies. They also work with customers to better understand how technology changes can help them improve business processes.
“We also leverage design thinking to ensure our solutions are user-centric, so users get maximum value from them,” Cardenuto says.
Before being named president of SAP Americas, Cardenuto had served as president of SAP Latin America for five years and established SAP as an innovation provider of choice for companies of all sizes in a variety of industries.
Cardenuto says SAP works directly with customers on new products, finding companies that are willing to adopt technology that is in the prototype phase.
“If we find ourselves with something that grows and appeals to more and more customers, we commercialize it,” he says. “We could say it’s a learn, build, measure, learn methodology.”
That timetable for the process continues to shrink as technology evolves.
“Through process simplification, we are doing this faster and faster. In fact, we can take innovations from concept to market in as little as five months — that’s as fast as leading startups,” Cardenuto says.
Adapting to millennials
Perhaps an even bigger challenge than tackling big data or continuing to innovate is adapting to the impact millennials, typically defined as those born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s, are having in the workplace.
Cardenuto says that’s the biggest challenge he’s faced in his career as a leader and one every business has to tackle, regardless of industry.
“Leaders in every industry and sector are also confronting it,” he says. “It’s about a fundamental change that is taking place in the workplace and the marketplace, as millennials emerge as the largest generation since the baby boomers.”
Within 15 years, millennials will represent 75 percent of the global workforce and will have amassed the greatest purchasing power in history at $2.45 trillion worldwide.
“As our current and future employees and bosses, and present and future customers, their impact transcends numbers: It’s about how they embrace technology and the digital world,” Cardenuto says.
Millennials are highly mobile and social, which is driving employers at many businesses to rethink traditional models.
“They are probably the most educated generation ever and are already shaping corporate culture. How you hire, retain and engage them is both a challenge and an opportunity,” Cardenuto says. “That is why I am intensely focused on putting the best strategies in place to fit our early talents.”