Helping China Run Better

SAP World Tour 2010: Beijing was the first of four stops in China
SAP World Tour 2010: Beijing was the first of four stops in China (photo: Frank Völkel)

As Hera Siu laid out in her introduction, the purpose of the keynotes, demo stations, and breakout sessions at SAP World Tour Beijing Friday were to put global business challenges in a local context and help explain how customers and partners can help solve these challenges with SAP.

SAP’s Co-CEO Bill McDermott noted a common thread in his recent conversations with customers. “They want to grow their business again,” he said.  Businesses are seeking to access new markets, empower their people, and inspire their customers, he said.  Three themes are helping them do this: real-time computing, mobility, and leadership.

A call for real-time business in China

15 billion devices are connected to the internet; a trillion sensors are holding and sending data. The result is an explosive rate of data growth, doubling every 18 months. “The opportunity of the century,” as McDermott called it, is to create insight out of this explosion of data. Technologies such as in-memory computing and world class business intelligence offerings are leading this drive, he said. He told the story of Procter & Gamble, an SAP customer that leverages these technologies from the board room down to see how products are selling – by market segment, channel, region, country, and a number of other categorizations. In doing so, the company can benchmark performance, minimize inventory, and optimize prices across markets. “We are available to you here in China as well,” McDermott said. “To digitize your enterprise so you, too, can be an exemplar for a real-time, best-run business.”

Greater productivity through untethered workforce

McDermott referred to the Sybase press conference earlier that week to inform attendees of the potential SAP and Sybase are unlocking with their convergence. “A lot of the change is going on outside the board room,” he said.  Businesses are looking to push decisions and information to those on the ground, moving and empowering people to make decisions in real time, he said. “By unwiring the enterprise you are unwiring your people to do great things.” With their complementary solutions, SAP and Sybase are extending end-to-end business processes to workers servicing products at customer sites, for example, with the most recent information. They are extending the store front with mobile commerce and enabling mobile payments. The drive for mobility – in the form of a suite of enterprise software and next-generation BI on any device at any place, and at any time – will have a massive impact on productivity, McDermott said.

Next Page: Traits of a market-leading business

Traits of a market-leading business

He listed several characteristics of today’s leading businesses, noting that they tend to run leaner, collaborate, share processes and information, and compete in business networks that transcend industries. They recognize the need for sustainable growth, he said, manage risk and remain compliant. He cited Chinese petroleum company Sinopec as such a local leader. The company addressed 500 business issues across 80 subsidiaries and tackled them by standardizing on SAP ERP, SAP BusinessObjects offerings, and Sybase mobility offerings. The company now enjoys improvements in the distribution of its oil products, with inventories dropping 20% and transportation efficiency up more than 20%.

Collaboration with China at all levels

McDermott commended the progress in SAP’s collaborations with China’s Ministry of IT and Ministry of Education – in the hopes of creating jobs and other entrepreneurial opportunities all across China. “We are growing our business and investing in people and facilities in China,” he said. This includes development of world-class software – in China for China. The version of SAP Business One released to customers in China is just one such innovation – developed and localized at SAP Labs China for the China market specifically. “We do this in recognition of the importance of China not only as world’s second largest and fastest growing economy,” he said, “but as a market that creates leadership and innovation that can be exported to the rest of the world.”

Sustainable growth

Hera Siu qualified Bill McDermott’s keynote with the concrete components of SAP’s product strategy, explaining in Mandarin the concepts of on demand, on device, on premise, and orchestration. She mapped several product examples to these categories, noting in-memory computing and a new analytics product that leverages this technology. She noted SAP Carbon Efficiency on the on-demand side, which customers can leverage via cloud infrastructure to reduce operating costs and their carbon footprint. And she reiterated the work between SAP and Sybase, how the future applications of wireless technology will have limitless potential for business.

Siu also delved into the topic of sustainability and corporate social responsibility, emphasizing how companies need to give back to the communities and countries they work in. Incidentally, the day before, SAP China was awarded as one of the top 50 green companies in China. “This is a true recognition of our efforts to protect the environment,” she said.

At a press conference held after the keynote, Hera Siu also noted the powerful role of small and midsize businesses in China, with SAP noticing exceptional growth in this segment in Q1 and Q2 of 2010. “SMEs in China understand that they have to be cost effective as well,” she said. SAP World Tour continues throughout September and October, with Beijing followed by events in Qingdao, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.