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Rethinking SAP: Beyond ‘Business as Usual’

/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/rethink_160422.jpgMost people feel like they know SAP.  We are, after all, a 40 year old company and a top-25 brand. We are in over 128 countries and have well over 100,000 existing customer relationships. But in the last few years, the company has gone through a monumental renaissance. And while this exists in our core business solutions, the passion and enthusiasm of our global employees spills over into some areas you probably aren’t aware of, but are “way cool” nonetheless. Investments into our business soltuions, global entrepreneurs, our communities, and in our partnerships with sports, arts and entertainment helps SAP become one of the most trusted brands on the planet.

Business Solutions

If you were listening to co-CEO Bill McDermott’s keynote today, you heard about the exiting launch of SAP 360 Customer and our solution SAP CRM powered by SAP HANA.  While this may seem only relevant to your marketing, services, and sales organizations, the bigger message is just as important for almost all businesses. “It now moves the conversation from ‘system of record’ to ‘system of engagement.’ How do you engage with your customers? What meaningful relationships are you creating with them? You can now take the traditional structured data and analyze that against new unstructured data,” intones Steve Lucas, EVP of SAP. What they say and do online can be effectively analyzed to help you make very smart decisions.


The acquisitions of SuccessFactors and Ariba have helped enhance the SAP strategy. Global energy company Gasunie’s Category Materials Manager Richard Schriek describes it like this. SAP is the IT backbone of our administrative organization while Ariba extends our internal systems to connect with our supply chain. With both in place and integrated, we are better able to collaborate, both internally and externally, and tie the resulting benefits back to our organisation.”

Corporate Social Responsibility

The world needs to create more than 500 million new jobs by 2020 to provide career opportunities for the currently unemployed as well as young people who will be joining the workforce. The bulk of this challenge falls on countries in the developing world, including Brazil and India A key component to help solve this dilemma is the SAP Emerging Entre[erneurs Initiative. Around the globe, these entrepreneurs are creating businesses that have a proven proof of concept, the ability to scale, and the utilization of technology to help run their businesses in a responsible and sustainable way. These businesses also strive to address societal needs in their country or region, and help create sustainable jobs in underserved markets.

Brittany Lothe, Head of SAP’S CSR explains “At SAP, we view our efforts to create social impact as more than the just the “right thing to do,” but strategic to our success. We are investing our capital, talent, and technology to enhance education for underserved youth and propel emerging entrepreneurs to foster economic growth and create a sustainable future for society and our company. Our focusing on education ensures that youth have the skills required to succeed in today’s knowledge based economy while entrepreneurship helps to drive new ideas and business opportunities. At the same time, we see enormous opportunity to utilize our technology, our employees’ skills and our other core competencies to help improve people’s lives throughout the world.”


If you have become a customer of SAP within the last 10 years, odds are you have been a part of our “Community.” The SAP Community Network (SCN) is a collection of almost 3 million members who engage with each other through a variety of online and live activities. SAP SVP Mark Yolton describes it this way, “Customers who are active members  tell us that they gain greater speed, higher impact, improved efficiency, and extraordinary insight from connecting and collaborating with peers there.  In other words: they can solve business problems and technology challenges faster, reduce the churn and frustration spent on rookie mistakes, get higher quality outcomes by re-using the best practices of others, and benefit from the collective wisdom of SAP’s entire ecosystem to give them a glimpse into the future.  At the individual level, they value the personal connections, build professional reputations, and advance their expertise and their careers by participating actively.

Sports, Arts, and Entertainment

If you have been listening, you may have seen some exciting news about SAP’s partnership with major brands in sports.  Our engagements with the San Francisco 49ers, the New York Yankees, or McLaren Group F1 Racing might be theee of the dozens of major announcements in recent months. Group VP of Global Sponsorships, Chris Burton, is fond to articulate it this way. “The primary driver behind the new strategy is the growing trend of “consumerization”, around which new information technology is first adopted by consumers before spreading to business . Our business is changing. You’ve heard about the consumerization of information technology. That’s something that is really upon us. SAP recognized years ago that the power of the mobile device can fundamentally change the way we work.  As a result, we realized we had to tell our story in a different way and introduce new people to the SAP brand. We identified sports, arts and entertainment as platforms for the strategy. We kicked off the initiative with sports. Part of our strategy is to work with teams, leagues, arenas and stadiums to figure out how we can help them re-imagine their fan experience, or, to take a phrase from our marketing platform, ‘To run like never before.’ We’re a B2B brand, but we’re acting like a B2C brand.”

There is more here than meets the eye. Think you know SAP?  Think again!


Interested in learning more?  I will be covering SAP’s SAPPHIRE and SAP’s TechEd conferences here in Madrid this week.  Follow me on Twitter @toddmwilms or connect on LinkedIn at any time. I would love to collaborate with you on these ideas.

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