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SAPPHIRE NOW Spotlight: How to Run Simple in a Complex World

SAP’s Bill McDermott Kicks Off SAPPHIRE NOW

by Ken Murphy, Editorial Director

May 5, 2015

ORLANDO - SAP CEO Bill McDermott hammered home the importance of digitization and customer centricity as the primary theme of his SAPPHIRE NOW 2015 keynote before roughly 20,000 attendees at the Orange County Convention Center on Tuesday, May 5. And the vehicle that will help organizations on the road to simple by becoming both data-driven and seamless, he said, is SAP S/4HANA.

Before re-introducing SAP S/4HANA as the most important product launch in SAP’s history, McDermott set the stage for the origination of the company’s current vision for placing the customer at the center of everything that SAP does. That vision, he said, coalesced in 2010 when the company realized that being a business application leader wasn’t going to suffice if SAP were to remain a business visionary in the 21st century. This realization took hold as a digital economy gained steam with the rise of big data, mobile, cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the connected business network.

The customer-centric vision, McDermott said, is the core of the Run Simple methodology: helping businesses run simple as one seamless “intelligent body” in an increasingly complex world. With this backdrop, he revealed how organizations can and will use SAP S/4HANA to propel “transformational outcomes” that will allow businesses to “bridge the divide and change the course of the company.”

“Our customers are telling us, ‘Look, I want to be social. I want one view of my customer. Total context awareness for who I’m dealing with; a context-rich experience.’ This is where we have to be, and this is where SAP is.”

He emphasized that point with an on-screen demo of Under Armour, which McDermott said is putting its entire $20 billion company on SAP HANA to connect every part of the organization directly to the end consumer. One of the primary reasons for Under Armour’s fairly recent acquisition of Map My Fitness and MyFitnessPal, CEO Kevin Plank said, was to “evolve [Under Armour’s] understanding of its customer into the core of the business.” With SAP HANA, Under Armour is using a single platform to integrate a product with fitness tracking and wearable technology, providing  the company with a real-time snapshot of not just how a product is moving off the shelves, but how customers are using that product to reach personal fitness goals.

To echo his key message, McDermott used the Under Armour example to illustrate how companies are partnering with SAP to reach these transformational outcomes. “With SAP HANA,” said McDermott, “Under Armour can connect its shoes and shirts to any device to any consumer on any channel and in any community.”

This is the core essence of SAP S/4HANA, said McDermott, enabling this transformation and true innovation by allowing organizations to reduce their data footprint by a factor of 10; and it is 1,800 times faster at analyzing data and analytics “than anything else in the world.”

Other customer case studies, demos, and product mentions all shared the same theme: Reducing complexity is the name of the game moving forward. Concur Chief Product Officer Barry Padgett exemplified this with a live demo of creating a travel expense. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt came on-screen to discuss Google for Work, a joint SAP and Google product that, Schmidt says, is “a huge priority” and that will “show the power of the web in mobile computing” with enterprise software increasingly integrating with Google Maps and Google Docs.

McDermott also discussed SAP Cloud for Customer and SAP HANA Cloud Platform as moving customers toward that vision of the seamless enterprise by offering an end-to-end value channel with the customer at the center.

Said McDermott, “Our customers are telling us, ‘Look, I want to be social. I want one view of my customer. Total context awareness for who I’m dealing with; a context-rich experience.’ This is where we have to be, and this is where SAP is.”

Customers, McDermott said, are asking sophisticated questions, and he promised that for the next three days at SAPPHIRE NOW those customers will find out that the “answers are simple.”

Watch the full keynote here:

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