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Plus Ça Change, Plus C’est la Même Chose

The world is flat. The world is smaller. The world spins ever faster. Change is the only constant. Change is accelerating. Choose your favorite business book title or theme, and chances are that one or more of these statements will resonate. 1 - Copy.jpg

It’s the same in technology. Cloud. Big Data. Mobile. Artificial intelligence. Machine learning. The Internet of Things. The list, just like the number of books on these topics, goes on.

So where am I heading? The answer is in the title of this blog – the beautiful, time-honored, French phrase that translates roughly as the more things change, the more it’s the same.

Cloud, Cloud, Cloud

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, photocopier sales teams pushed “color, color, color.” That’s sometimes how it feels now with “cloud, cloud, cloud.”

Please don’t get me wrong: Cloud is undeniably upending things. Cloud changes how you develop, deploy, consume, commercialize, and innovate enterprise applications. As such, it can profoundly disrupt – or radically enable – technology firms such as SAP.

Yet some things haven’t changed.  To succeed in business, you must be able to secure deep customer insight, execute seamless business process, facilitate frictionless commerce, and execute in real time, all the time – even as you continuously innovate towards next-generation best practices. All of this requires capabilities that have not changed over time, including:

  • Deep industry experience in every industry (not just one or two)
  • Deep line-of-business experience across every line of business (not just one or two)
  • Choice (in your preferred cloud model – be it public, managed, or hybrid – at the speed you choose)
  • Seamless integration, data model consistency, user experience coherency, and localization for the countries where you do business
  • Ability to leverage your existing assets and investments
  • A technology partner for the long run – one that is proven to deliver breakthrough innovation and is also stable, secure, and trusted

Ground Hog Day

So when I hear our competitors say that SAP is a “dinosaur,” a company that is old and unable to keep pace with today’s technologies, I have to laugh. In fact, I laugh as much as when I saw the wonderful movie Ground Hog Day, in which the main character repeatedly wakes up to the same day.

The technology industry has experienced its fair share of Ground Hog Days:

  • Remember 2001 and the bubble? Where are those darlings of enterprise software now?
  • Remember the 1990s and the fantasy of best-of-breed”? That was popular until people remembered the true costs of integration, consistency, coherency, and localization. (There is a reason why suite always wins.)
  • Remember the idea of Enterprise software? It’s not the same as just “a bit of enterprise.”

So, to the tech observers and competitors who liken SAP to a dinosaur, allow me to retort with Darwin.

Who are you calling a dinosaur? Meet Charles

Last summer, I took my family to the Galapagos Islands, where Charles Darwin studied finches and honed his theory of natural selection. As far as Darwin was concerned, the species that succeeded weren’t necessarily the largest, the strongest, fastest, or even the most intelligent. Those that succeeded were those most able to adapt.

In the last four decades, SAP has not just adapted to technology industry earthquakes – we led them. From mainframe to client/server and client/server to Web-based computing, SAP both evolved and led, helping our customers to do the same. Today we lead the shift to the cloud with more than 50 million users and are bringing the benefits of in-memory computing, mobile, social, and Big Data analytics to life.

Neanderthal Nigel

If SAP is just like a dinosaur, then perhaps some of our competitors are just like Neanderthal man – an interesting gene, but with limited prospects. They have limited-scope offerings designed for just a few industries, localized for just a few countries, for just a few line of businesses, for companies of just a certain size, and with no in-memory capabilities. Yet in their monocular focus, they believe they have discovered the power of fire. Unfortunately this is not true, until they can offer solutions that address every:

  • Industry
  • Line of business
  • Cloud model, at the customer’s choice
  • Location in the world the customer chooses to do business
  • Size of business

all without losing the benefits of integration, consistency, coherency, and localization. They must also enable co-innovation with the world’s largest ecosystem of enterprise customers, partners, and developers. Without these features, the evolution of these new genes will likely be absorbed or extinguished, just like Neanderthal man.



Our Run Simple strategy is helping customers work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. Our Technologies help companies innovate – doing everything from opening bank accounts for the unbanked to performing maintenance, repair, and operations work on jet engines. Our mobile apps tell workers when to repair, replace, upgrade, or disable mission-critical machines and business processes, in real time and adding real value. This innovation isn’t new for SAP. It’s been our mission for 43 years.

SAP is committed to remaining highly adaptive, evolving and changing to keep you ahead of the competition by using new technology to drive innovation. We support disruptive innovation through non-disruptive technology [tweet this]. We’ll make sure your investment is protected, and we will blaze new trails so our customers don’t have to. That’s what we’ve always done.

As the French say: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!

Simon Paris is president of Industry Cloud at SAP

Connect with Simon on Twitter: @SimonMParis

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Nice title 😉