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Creating the conditions for continuous innovation with cloud applications

Continuous innovation allows organizations to outmanoeuvre competitors, winning over customers who have rapidly changing needs and expectations. Innovation also equips them to deal with crises.

Photo by @sigmund from Unsplash.com

By Anna Tan
Head of Applications, Oracle Philippines

From the printing press to the internet, our greatest innovations have led to seismic societal shifts. These creations outstrip the expected rate of change, and the same is true for innovative businesses: they outpace the market, producing original solutions or taking existing technologies in new, exciting directions.

Continuous innovation allows organizations to outmaneuver competitors, winning over customers who have rapidly changing needs and expectations. Innovation also equips them to deal with crises: for example, studies found that companies with a focus on innovation outperformed the market by 30% following the 2009 financial crisis, with the ability to not only weather the downturn but to actively thrive and grow. As we begin to enter the wake of the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic, there will be winners and, unfortunately, losers in much the same way.

We often dwell on the crucial role that innovation has in delivering positive outcomes, but we don’t always take the time to consider the context to those advances – the conditions necessary for them to take place. In fact, creating the right environment for continuous innovation lays the foundations for everything that comes afterwards, be that the creation of new products or more efficient, sustainable supply chains. Today, that means using a single, connected platform with an integrated suite of cloud applications that are designed to support innovation.

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Innovation starts with the foundations

When we think of innovation in design, planning, manufacturing, and the supply chain, we often think of a garage – from Alexander Graham Bell tinkering away at the first telephone in a carriage house to Hewlett and Packard starting an enterprise that would lead to one of the giants in personal computing in a one-car garage. This is because garages are functional spaces where everything innovators need is within reach, communication is instant, and it is easy to get feedback on work in real time. All the necessary conditions for innovation are present.

The problem is that a garage-like environment is difficult to scale. Worse, some of the legacy on-premise systems that have been used to support larger organizations can actually stifle innovation. Organizations that still operate using a linear, siloed approach to innovation will find that they struggle to develop, launch, and scale new products and services due to inefficiencies and blind spots. Indeed, a recent survey from McKinsey found that just 6% of CEOs are happy with their company’s capacity for innovation.

Above all, legacy systems cost companies flexibility: if data is locked away in different departmental siloes, conflicting sources of information will grow over time, making it difficult to use data to drive innovation. Without frictionless input and feedback and the ability to test, tinker, and move decisively when an idea works, organizations cannot keep up with the rapidly changing business landscape. Simply put, legacy tools weren’t designed for the kind of continuous innovation of the kind that today’s customers have come to expect.

Head in the clouds

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To capture the flexibility of the garage at scale, organizations need a single platform for continuous innovation. With infrastructure that’s optimized to run a suite of cloud applications, they can connect their data, product lifecycle management and supply chain and manufacturing processes to maximize their capacity for innovation. Innovators thrive when they’re able to access data from all their facilities, products, connected devices, and customers anywhere, at any time, and on any device – that real-time feedback allows them to accelerate decision making and continually ideate and optimize their services.

This end-to-end visibility provides organizations with actionable insights that can improve efficiency, flexibility, and speed. With a single cloud-enabled platform, businesses can continually monitor their operations across every business unit and function, leveraging their data to ensure quality standards, minimize downtime, and even drive predictive analytics that allow them to get ahead of issues in their manufacturing line or supply chain. Now more than ever, with supply-chain challenges across Europe, complex logistic tasks need innovative solutions.

Better systems mean better outcomes

Innovators lead by example. Across every industry, they seize opportunities and reap the benefits associated, delivering quality and value to their customers, and enjoying the healthy returns that more efficient, innovative solutions deliver.

Whether it’s luxury watchmaking or tech products, the “Swiss-Made” label is an undeniable mark of quality. This is a blessing but also a curse for Swiss brands that have to live up to expectations while keeping their prices competitive, as car wheel manufacturer Alcar knows only too well. To meet the innovation demands of this quality challenge and rapidly changing market, Alcar implemented a single cloud system that covers all their key processes, from planning and manufacturing to procurement and financials. With these capabilities in place, the company could leverage data from IoT sensors to make the production process more efficient and rapidly respond when new vehicles hit the market.

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A unified approach to innovation

By bringing all their applications and data together under one virtual roof, businesses can recreate the innovation-sparking conditions of the garage in the cloud. The results speak for themselves: those willing to lay the right foundations for continuous innovation are rewarded with best-in-class flexibility, scalability, and efficiency, resulting in better profitability, superior products and services for customers, and sustainable solutions that are kinder to our planet.

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