About 100 decision-makers from southwestern Germany met at SAP headquarters in Walldorf, Germany. Attendees were alumni of famous universities like INSEAD (Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires), Harvard University, and University of St. Gallen. The evening was dedicated to emerging markets such as the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and to discuss to what degree innovation is driving change in these markets, or if these markets were driving innovation themselves.
As a world leader in enterprise software with a large development center in India, support centers in China and Brazil, and research centers in Africa and around the globe, SAP is not only experiencing these trends, but also thriving on the opportunities that they provide.
Angelika Dammann, member of the SAP Executive Board, opened the evening with some words on the importance of talent for innovation in the high-tech industry. “Without good people you cannot be innovative or successful,” she emphasized at the beginning of her presentation. According to Dammann, the future requires people with a mission who are focused on their ideas.
Next Page: SAP HANA
SAP HANA: “The greatest innovation of the past decade”
In the past few years, individuals and small teams, like the creators of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wikipedia and Google, have fundamentally changed our world. “But great innovations don’t happen every year. For SAP, HANA was the greatest innovation of the decade,” Dammann said. She called IT “a catalyst for change in business.”
Dammann made clear that the innovations of the past few years have introduced some new challenges: “It has become more and more difficult to take risks because nothing stays a secret anymore. Good and bad ideas alike spread across the globe in a few seconds.” She also discussed the change from an industrial age to a “knowledge-worker age” and the new challenges it brings for both people and markets.
Population will determine success
Following Dammann’s introduction, Clas Neumann, Global Head of SAP Labs and an INSEAD alumnus, delivered the keynote, “Innovation from Emerging Markets.” He started with simple math: countries with large populations will be more successful in the future because, in the end, it’s the sheer numbers that matter. Here, he sees an opportunity for the fast-growing BRIC countries.
In the future, he said, it will not be enough to have the best products; the best business model will be the deciding factor. Cultural differences also will become more and more important in today’s global businesses. According to Neumann, executive positions in foreign locations should be held by local employees to create a strategic partnership instead of a top-to-bottom management structure. “Only companies that are successful in local innovation will be successful in emerging markets and attract the best talent,” said Neumann.