SAP CEO Bill McDermott Talks Cloud, Being 'Cool' - InformationWeek

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10/29/2015
07:06 AM

SAP CEO Bill McDermott Talks Cloud, Being 'Cool'

When InformationWeek got on the phone with SAP CEO Bill McDermott, the conversation was wide-ranging and thought-provoking.
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The Place For Platform
InformationWeek: In the earnings call [Oct. 20], you talked about platform customers and cloud customers. Are you seeing any trends in the type of businesses that are the customers of each type of product or service?
McDermott: The platform conversation, I believe, is being generated from the concept of the business-to-consumer economy. In the world of mobile you're basically dealing with the business-to-consumer economy. So, every CEO you talk to, along with their board, knows that they have to digitize their business so they can remain competitive. The best way to do that is to connect with your consumer. The consumer is on a device and they expect that you're going to connect with them in any channel, on any device, and they're going to be able to conduct business with you.
To do that, the 20th century data platforms cannot keep up, and what makes matters, in a sense, more complex, is the disk-based computer is too slow for the real-time enterprise. And then adding on the complexity of the warehouses and all the other 'analytics engines,' and all the aggregates that now get created in the enterprise, causes this massive sea of complexity. So where we see the platform in particular is removing layers of complexity.
In some ways that's [removing steps from] the business process or work process -- how do you take steps out of that workflow? The second piece is how do you radically simplify the stack, or the amount of hardware companies have to invest in? And how do you create a live platform, where the company's data can be immediately available to that consumer so they can do whatever they want in any channel? And how can the executives of that company see what's going on from the back offices and the supply chain, to real-time financials, to the behavior of their customers in every channel, from every corner of the earth? That's where platform comes in.
(Image: SAP)

The Place For Platform

InformationWeek: In the earnings call [Oct. 20], you talked about platform customers and cloud customers. Are you seeing any trends in the type of businesses that are the customers of each type of product or service?

McDermott: The platform conversation, I believe, is being generated from the concept of the business-to-consumer economy. In the world of mobile you're basically dealing with the business-to-consumer economy. So, every CEO you talk to, along with their board, knows that they have to digitize their business so they can remain competitive. The best way to do that is to connect with your consumer. The consumer is on a device and they expect that you're going to connect with them in any channel, on any device, and they're going to be able to conduct business with you.

To do that, the 20th century data platforms cannot keep up, and what makes matters, in a sense, more complex, is the disk-based computer is too slow for the real-time enterprise. And then adding on the complexity of the warehouses and all the other "analytics engines," and all the aggregates that now get created in the enterprise, causes this massive sea of complexity. So where we see the platform in particular is removing layers of complexity.

In some ways that's [removing steps from] the business process or work process -- how do you take steps out of that workflow? The second piece is how do you radically simplify the stack, or the amount of hardware companies have to invest in? And how do you create a live platform, where the company's data can be immediately available to that consumer so they can do whatever they want in any channel? And how can the executives of that company see what's going on from the back offices and the supply chain, to real-time financials, to the behavior of their customers in every channel, from every corner of the earth? That's where platform comes in.

(Image: SAP)

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petey
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petey,
User Rank: Strategist
10/30/2015 | 5:05:26 PM
Re: SAP and Innovation
This was a very interesting interview. Not often you get 45 minutes alone with somebody in his position. SAP is moving forward with lots of innovation so it will be interesting to watch how the technology morphs in the next year or so.
tzubair
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50%
tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
10/29/2015 | 3:43:55 PM
SAP and Innovation
"We finished up with something that I've wondered about for a couple of years: How did SAP go from one of the most stodgy of conservative software companies to an organization that has schoolkids eager to line up to use its tech for the coolest sort of student and maker projects?"

I don't think it's fair to call SAP to be a stodgy company. It always had a different path towards innovation. Yes, it did not get into the cloud bandwagon right way, but it also did not lag behind in innovation a great deal. SAP has always focussed on a stable secure platform and then innovated on these premises.
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