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SAPPHIRE Reflections – Seeing Your Way Clear in the New Reality

Léo Apotheker began his keynote with some sobering reminders of the economic crisis:

  • U.S. unemployment is at a 15 year high.
  • The U.S. stimulus package is nearly $800 billion, greater than the U.S. GDP 50 years ago.
  • The world will not be restored to “normal” when the crisis finally ends

However Léo was upbeat, stating that the best-run companies will not just survive, but thrive, regardless of the uncertainties ahead. The key to dealing with uncertainty is to be more clear. Clear about what you stand for, about what you say, and about how you act.

With that, Léo issued a new challenge for best-run companies to become clear enterprises. Clear enterprises should be:

  • Transparent and accountable
  • Lean and agile
  • Collaborative and customer-centric

As the keynote evolved, it became clear (pun intended) that clear wasn’t a specific new product; it was a simpler way to describe SAP’s value to organizations.

If you have insight into what’s going on inside an organization’s operations, you have the clarity to make more confident decisions. With clarity you can optimize your processes, reduce costs, and use resources more efficiently. And having everyone on the same page gives you the flexibility to respond more quickly to changing business conditions.

Not surprisingly, there were four demos that reinforced the concept of how technology can help an organization become clear.

An insurance industry application helped both the consumer and the insurance company react more efficiently to an auto accident (shown vividly between two toy cars).

A carbon emission solution provided consumers with more insight into which replacement navigation system was most environmentally sustainable.

And the newly-launched SAP BusinessObjects Explorer can be used by anyone to explore their business and make more confident decisions. (Léo himself did a brief demo to prove the point and earned the badge of “demo boy” from traditional chief demoer, Ian Kimbell.)

The fourth demo was a peak into the future, suggesting how decisions might be made more flexibly by combining insight from multiple people.

Beyond products, Léo tied two other topics to the notion of clear: Enterprise Support and Sustainability.  As a way of making the value of support transparent, SAP and SUGEN have agreed on a collection of key performance indicators that will be independently monitored and reported every year. These KPIs will show that organizations achieve 30% improvement over four years. This is indeed clear.

For sustainability, Léo provided a simple and clear definition:  the need to holistically manage economic, social and environmental risks and opportunities. SAP itself is becoming more sustainable and is committed to reduce its own carbon emissions by 70% by 2020.

SAP also announced a “sustainability map”; a set of capabilities for organizations to become end-to-end sustainable businesses.  Léo was clear that this was more than being green; being sustainability provides competitive and financial advantage.

In case all of that wasn’t clear, there’s a lot more on the web at

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