At the Forefront of Digital Innovation: Interview with SAP CIO Florian Roth

Learn how Florian Roth, recently appointed as the new chief information officer (CIO) and head of IT Services at SAP, defines his new role for the company and its customers.

SAP CIO Florian Roth
Florian Roth, CIO of SAP

Over 13 years, Florian Roth has built a remarkable career at SAP. In his previous role as head of Global Post Sales, Roth was responsible for the harmonization of critical, cloud-specific post-sales processes. Together with his team, he helped ensure a seamless experience for customers across all lines of business.

Now, as CIO and head of IT Services, Roth leads the IT organization at SAP as a vital component of the company’s intelligent enterprise strategy. Here, he shares his thoughts about his new role and the transformation of the IT industry in general.

Q: As CIO of a software company, you have a special role. What motivates you?

A: Throughout my career, I’ve often had the opportunity to gain in-depth perspectives of our customers’ end-to-end value chains. As CIO, I want to transfer this knowledge to drive the digital transformation not only for SAP but also for our customers. This is what motivates me every day: to help our customers navigate through a complex world and to make their lives a bit easier.

Q: How has the role of the CIO or that of an IT organization changed over the years?

A: The role of the CIO has changed a lot in recent years and it continues to evolve. Cloud solutions are growing significantly, and IT has become part of the product solution and service itself and has transformed our business model. Moreover, IT connects entire value chains. Today, enabling technologies, data-driven applications, and the underlying IT landscape are the centerpiece of innovative products and services. They create a new kind of experience for customers and end users. On top, all these innovations need to seamlessly work together. And that is where IT provides a lot of value today.

Q: What do you see is an IT organization’s most immediate opportunity?

A: At SAP, the IT Services department serves as the first and best reference customer. As early adopters, we implement innovative solutions for SAP and use our findings to improve the products and experience for our customers. Every time we as a company implement a new solution or use a new technology, it helps guide our customers on their journey toward becoming an intelligent enterprise.

Since many of our customers are going through the same transformational processes, we can help them with practical scenarios to start. It is this level of knowledge about processes and technologies that help run these processes as smoothly as our customers expect from us.

Q: How do you plan to interact with customers?

A: It is our responsibility to drive SAP’s internal transformation toward an intelligent enterprise. This also an externally focused perspective, as our customers expect SAP to be a role model in implementing new solutions and modern technology to manage the digital transformation. Our customers are interested in our expertise in turning business processes into digital business processes. And we, in return, need our customers’ experience to gain more insights into their specific businesses and industries. Why? Because understanding our customers’ businesses is the best way to support them.

Q: Having just started in your new role, can you share some insights on what your next few weeks will look like?

A: My first step will be a “listen and learn” tour to visit key customers, business stakeholders, and major locations and to have an exchange with as many people as possible. I think this is the best and fastest way to gain the best perspectives about the various aspects of my role leading an IT organization and to understand the positive impact we can achieve together.

I look forward to meeting customers to talk about their business challenges and about how SAP can help with their digital transformations. I am interested in hearing their perspectives on how SAP can make a difference in their businesses today and long term. With IT being at the heart of every company’s digital transformation, I truly believe that this is the key differentiator for companies in the digital world. CIOs and their IT organizations are the ambassadors, they are the connection between the various business functions within an enterprise, and therefore at the forefront of digital innovation.