Sogeti Technology Outlook 2022


Human Happiness as the ultimate goal of innovation

According to the famous management guru Gary Hamel, Innovation is emotional. It starts with the heart – with a passion for improving the lives of those around you. To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at Apple, considered by many as one of the most innovative companies around. Apple did not invent the iPad by listening carefully and paying attention to its customers, by putting them first or even by delighting them. They aspired to create things that seemed ‘magical’ – that where so far beyond what any customer might have imagined, that seemed like pure wizardry. The attitude was not only to please customers but to ‘amaze’ them. What this teaches us is that to really innovate, you must be extremely eager to do whatever can be done, within the limits of physics and economics, to raise the level of human happiness in the world.


Digital happiness


You might say “yes”, but always come with the “but we have to be pragmatic”. We must focus on things that can actually be accomplished. That might be true, but too often we are blindly pragmatic. We are so conservative, so utilitarian, so process-focused, so data-driven, so obsessed with meager efficiencies, that we can scarcely dream of doing something “insanely great” – to borrow one of Steve Jobs’ favorite phrases.

The future is no longer what it used to be

Obsessing around what you can do to preserve or increase an individual’s happiness is key to digital transformation. You should become what Forrester calls “Customer obsessed”, which goes far beyond the well understood ‘customer centric’ or ‘customer first’ strategies that so many of us have been focused on. This obsession requires to start with the needs, hopes and aspirations of the customer and then work backwards to what experience you as an enterprise should offer and only then think about the products, services and business processes that are required to deliver.

Too often digital transformation starts with what the best possible experience is that can be offered, given the enterprise’s existing products, services, and processes. This self-limiting strategy is the exact opposite of customer obsession. It is obsessing about what exist today and what worked well for you in the past, regardless of what the customer truly desires. It is like creating a strategy for future success by looking into the rearview mirror, believing that the future is a natural extension of the past. But, what most of us realize today is that the future will be radically different. It will be determined by scientific breakthroughs, new technologies, new values, changing behavior, new customer expectations (especially by the younger generations) and not the least, systemic risks.

And, by definition, those developments are very hard or impossible to predict. Additionally, it seems that the time available to an organization to respond to sudden change, is constantly becoming shorter. It is not only that we live in times of radical change but also in a period of time-compression. So, the key question for many organizations nowadays is how to organize for unpredictable, continuous change.

Build the ‘Innovation Ready’ enterprise

When it becomes impossible to predict the future and the time available to respond to change becomes shorter, organizations need to pre-emptively invests in their maneuverability to make frictionless continuous change possible. At the core this involves applying a ‘Future Fit Strategy’ that aims to be Adaptive, Creative and Resilient.
Adaptive – able to create or adjust core business processes and concepts, Creative – bringing emotion and engagement into digital customer and employee experiences, and Resilient – delivering on socially sustainable product vision and brand promise, rain or shine, no matter the crisis.


Click to enlarge image New Normal Drives Future-Fit strategies


The core technology elements that form the enabling backbone of such an innovation ready organization are Platforms (reusable, scalable, composable software platforms, industry platforms, marketplaces, data-exchanges, ERP, SCM, PLM, CRM, API’s, integration busses, etc. to accelerate time to value) Practices (different ways of working, shifting to fusion teams of technology and business, aligning teams on outcomes as opposed to strict processes) and Partners (Hyperscalers, SaaS-providers, SI’s, start-ups, value chain partners, co-innovating towards common goals).

The need for Talent

Despite the importance of a future fit strategy of platforms, practices and partners, the most important factor in any strategy is of course the talented people under the right leadership that execute the strategy.

The quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, contributed to the legendary management consultant Peter Drucker, doesn’t say that strategy is unimportant – rather that a powerful and empowering culture is a surer route to organizational success.

Consequently, building an Innovation Ready enterprise requires skillful and talented people that are led by visionary leadership in an agile structure focusing on business outcome. Experience demonstrates that many organizations struggle at attracting and retaining the right people, especially in times of scarcity.

However, despite the importance of sourcing the required skills, ample attention must be given at implementing the right leadership style (as a bearer of corporate culture) that empowers people to do ‘the right thing’ and focus on ‘outcome’.