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Author's profile photo Derek Klobucher

SAP Focuses on Technology to Win Big in Racing, Insurance and Other Industries

SAP is trying to muscle into a new market. Insurance may not seem tough — it sounds nerdier than watching the Sharks square off against the Jets — but SAP will face plenty of opposition from entrenched industry veterans.

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SAP’s Denise Broady (left) leads a discussion of experts at the SAP Industry Analyst Base Camp.

Insurance offers growth opportunities for SAP, but a finance analyst from Boston-based Aberdeen Group wondered how SAP will distinguish itself from other players on that stage. So she posed the question to three experts at the 4th annual SAP Industry Analyst Base Camp.

“Technology is the Differentiator”

“Innovation is really critical,” SAP’s Debbie Schmidt told the influencer conference. “Many of our competitors might focus specifically on applications, but not the underlying technology.”

Scale is a huge advantage for SAP, noted Schmidt, the company’s COO and head of the Transformation Office in Global Financial Services. Another advantage is its ability to quickly integrate its high-tech solutions, either alone or in tandem with customers.

“Technology is the differentiator,” Schmidt said. “If you couple that with the significant investments we’re making in financial services — and will continue to make in financial services — I don’t see how many of our competitors will be able to touch us going forward.”

Beyond Technology

Other candidates for SAP’s “it” factor include:

  • SAP’s vast network of customer engagements
  • Organic innovation in fields such as in-memory databases, mobility and analytics
  • Savvy acquisitions, including cloud computing powerhouse Ariba and data management master hybris

That’s according to Martin Mrugal, senior vice president of Global Business Development and Innovation with SAP.

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Schmidt and Mrugal (right) talk about SAP’s “huge competitive advantage.”

“The confluence of that portfolio … is creating new solutions at a rate that I have not seen in 15 years,” Mrugal said. “And that is a huge competitive advantage.”

Mrugal cited SAP’s work in financial services, as well as with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 racing team.

Need for Speed

“They’re running all their race day telemetry, analytics and everything that they do on SAP HANA,” SAP’s Steve Peck told the assembled influencers. “They take 200 telemetry points off the cars eight times a second, and grab mega amounts of data, and crunch it in real time.”

Banks use the same technology to detect fraud by quickly analyzing immense volumes of data in a way that no other technology can, according to Peck, senior vice president for SAP Global Strategic Initiatives. Financial services firms need this information instantly — or as close as possible to instantly — and so does McLaren.

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Peck (right) explains why he’s glad Facebook didn’t exist when he was in school.

“This is a racing crew that tries to gain two seconds a year,” Peck said. “It’s the difference between winning and losing in the F1 circuit.”

We’ve Only Just Begun …

So SAP is poised to be a powerful contender in the insurance arena, thanks to its computing power, speed and deep bench of partners, according to the panel.

“And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg,” Mrugal said.

Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher

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