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SAP Is Rewriting David and Goliath in Silicon Valley

September 27, 2016 by Eric Annino

Silicon Valley is the epicenter of the global technology startup community. It inspires images of siloed groups competing to bring the newest innovations to market. Adding to the pressure cooker are tenured technology companies, whose offices cast imposing shadows across the water-starved valley.

It’s tough going for the little guy. But behind this façade of intense and entrenched competition is a collaborative dynamic rarely seen and, until now, little known.

In Silicon Valley, the David and Goliath relationship has gone symbiotic.

Startups and small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) no longer need to flounder while reservoirs of experience and financial capital sit idle in larger, established enterprises. Larger enterprises don’t have to lag behind as agile, risk-taking startups bring world-changing innovations to market. Each group has something to offer, and they’re finding that collaboration is the answer.

In Silicon Valley, the David and Goliath relationship has gone symbiotic.

Speaking recently at the SAP Spotlight Tour event in Silicon Valley, Ryan Pamplin, vice president of Sales and Partnership at augmented reality startup Meta, articulated what many perhaps already know: “I don’t think a lot of crazy moonshot types of technologies happen very much in large companies.”

Meta’s own moonshot is an augmented reality device they hope will become the most immersive AR experience on the planet. But to get there, Meta is relying on the help of SAP, a large company that is working with startups and SMBs to take their innovative technologies from concept to market.

SAP recognizes—and in fact relies upon—the power of small. According to Scott Jones, SAP’s head of general business for North America, 80 percent of SAP customers are SMBs.

In 2012, the company launched the SAP Startup Focus program, which operates globally to help promising startups build quality solutions using SAP HANA that can be adopted by the enterprise market. The program provides startups with access to SAP technology and support as well as potential customers and private equity. It has grown from 400 startups in 2012 to 4,500 startups in 65 countries today, and resulted in 240 new applications developed using SAP technology.

SAP both recognizes and relies upon the power of small businesses

“If more companies in the valley do this,” said Pamplin, “it will only help spur innovation around the world.”

Also in attendance at Spotlight were SMBs Neptune Software, Smart Utility Systems, and the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League, as well as startups Blippar, Sensify, and Validic—all of whom have partnered with SAP.


Neptune Software leverages SAP ABAP source code to provide the most cost efficient and secure way to make any SAP functionality seamlessly available in user-friendly interfaces on mobile, tablet, and desktop.

Smart Utility Systems (SUS) is a leading provider of cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms for customer engagement, workforce mobility, and Big Data intelligence and analytics to the energy, water, and gas utility sectors.

San Jose Sharks Sharks are a Bay Area professional ice hockey team playing in the National Hockey League’s Western Conference. The team’s stadium, the SAP Center, leverages several SAP solutions, including SAP Hybris Marketing and Cloud for Sales.

Blippar is a global technology company that brings the physical world to life through smart devices using augmented reality and artificial intelligence. They are using SAP HANA as a platform for their state-of-the-art technology.

Sensify is a leading global provider of Internet of Things solutions designed to remotely track, monitor, trace, control, manage, verify, and secure fixed and mobile assets. Sensify’s solutions focus on three key markets: real-time HD camera tracking and telematics; inventory and rental equipment management and tracking; and in-transit cargo tracking and monitoring. They are also leveraging the SAP HANA platform.

Validic provides the industry’s leading digital health platform connecting providers, pharmaceutical companies, payers, wellness companies and healthcare IT vendors to health data gathered from hundreds of in-home clinical devices, wearables, and consumer healthcare applications. Validic reaches more than 223 million lives in 47 countries.


A common sentiment shared during the event was that SAP has become the on-ramp to enterprise-level innovation. For startups and SMBs, SAP is in the business of empowerment and democratization, enabling them to operate like large enterprises. They can leverage SAP’s powerful infrastructure, instead of investing in their own, get insights from SAP experts, and engage with SAP’s networks of investors, like Sapphire Ventures, and customers.

Innovation is at the heart of what SAP is doing in Silicon Valley. That, according to Danny Lopez, COO at Blippar, is at least part of why SAP is doing so well with startups and SMBs. “We find that SAP’s craving for innovation aligns with our own,” said Lopez.

Now more than ever, it is critical for large enterprises to invest in new ways of kindling innovation to help their customers compete better and win in their respective markets—and SAP is setting the standard.

Top image via Shutterstock

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