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SAP Kicks Off 2016 in China: A Tale of Two New Years

January 29, 2016 by Robin Meyerhoff 260

Earlier this month, SAP Greater China held its sales kickoff in Beijing. Fortuitously timed between the Gregorian calendar New Year and Chinese New Year, there was a lot to celebrate.

Last year was both the 20th year anniversary of SAP’s presence in China and the most significant year in terms of customer momentum and support for the Chinese government’s path to digitization. SAP CEO Bill McDermott and Michael Kleinemeier, executive board member for Global Service & Support (GSS), both reiterated the message that China is SAP’s second home.

Despite concerns about the Chinese economy, Bill is bullish on China.

“When you had a great year, the CEO should come and say thank you and let you know how much your hard work means to SAP,” said Bill. “You are the most important economy in the world, soon to be the largest economy in the world.”

Mark Gibbs, Managing Director of SAP Greater China, was also excited, saying the SAP Field Kick-Off Meeting (SAP FKOM) is his favorite time of the year. For Mark, the SAP FKOM theme of “No Limits” is particularly relevant for China this year. “With the markets moving up and down, there are clearly a lot of challenges in China. However, that uncertainty brings opportunity for SAP.”

Mark said the main opportunity lies in three important government initiatives: Internet+, Made in China 2025 and One Belt, One Road. Additionally, 2016 is the year that China embarks on its 13th five-year plan. Taken together, these efforts mean China is on the fast path to digitize business and industry; and more closely align the economies and infrastructure of the former Silk Road, over 60 countries.

Last year SAP grew closer to the Chinese government with several meetings in Germany and China that engaged German Prime Minister Angela Merkel and high-ranking Chinese officials. Its efforts culminated in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, where he saw demonstrations of SAP innovation in manufacturing and sports.

During his keynote, Bill referenced SAP’s incredible momentum, “You never realize you’re having a moment until you’re having a memory.”

For everyone attending SAP FKOM Beijing celebrating the accomplishments of the SAP Greater China team, the event was most decidedly both.

The celebratory mood continued at the gala dinner. To start, Bill and Mark presented basketball superstar, Yao Ming, with a donation of 30,000 Euros for his foundation. The organization supports education and sports opportunities for underprivileged children in China.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

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