Economic downturn encourages more than 31 000 business leaders to crowd SAP World Tour 2009 to gain insight on how to optimise companies

JohannesburgProof that companies are still investing in the down economy, business leaders are investing their valuable time and efforts to learn how to best weather the economic storm at the SAP World Tour 2009. The West Africa SAP World Tour was concluded last week in Lagos, Nigeria, with over 300 delegates attending the two-day event.

Pfungwa Serima, managing director at SAP Africa, says: “Peer-to-peer engagement has proved valuable in sharing insights around technology challenges, especially in times like these. The World Tours hosted in Africa this year are proof points that the industry is keen to engage and collaborate on innovative technology solutions to help business run profitably, even during this challenging period. We believe we are able to contribute to our customers successes by creating a platform to inform and equip them with strategies necessary for them to gain more traction out of the technology they deploy.”

Customers around the globe are gathering at the events to convene with peers and SAP to experience the benefits of business networks and learn firsthand the advantages of operating transparently in today’s economic downturn. The format has been a success with attendees, who find the combination of global and local market information to be of tremendous value, providing insights that will impact their day-to-day business practices.

Being held in more than 70 cities across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America, the SAP World Tours are sold-out events that have already attracted more than 31 000 attendees.

In its fifth year, the SAP World Tour events feature keynotes by top SAP executives that analyse ongoing macroeconomic and industry-wide trends, as well as industry- and product-focused breakout sessions that provide opportunities for more in-depth discussions. This year’s events explore how companies can achieve transparency in every area of their operations. Attendees can learn to harness the power of technology in order to run lean operations, capture greater market share and gain transparency in their operations. In addition, the successful event platform provides companies in the small and midsize enterprise (SME) market the opportunity to explore SAP solutions that address the specific challenges associated with their location, size and industry.

Bill McDermott on trends that impact company operations

In Birmingham, UK, Bill McDermott, member of the Executive Board of SAP AG in the area of Global Field Operations, emphasised that by investing during a downturn, companies are preparing themselves to be leading enterprises once the economy recovers. Based on conversations with global CEOs, McDermott reported that such “smart companies” have identified areas of investment focus where they realise in order to be leaders they must employ new strategies, including risk and cash management, sustainability, customers, employees and operations.

“Now is a perfect opportunity for companies of all sizes to rethink their business strategies,” said McDermott. “To survive in this new reality, companies must employ strategies that bring near-term results while also laying a solid foundation for the future. We see companies continuing their strategic projects that will drive long-term growth and profitability, while putting special emphasis right now on initiatives that lead to quick wins and address today’s business pain points.”

McDermott provided the audience a quick five-point roadmap designed to help companies be leaders in the down market: benchmark against peers; identify quick wins with Best-Run Now packages from SAP; enable better business decision-making by using tools such as SAP BusinessObjects Explorer software; optimise SAP solutions with key services to lower total cost of ownership; and focus IT employees on a value-driven approach.

Peter Graf on maintaining sustainable business practices

In Brazil, Peter Graf, chief sustainability officer and executive vice-president of Sustainability Solutions at SAP, examined how increased complexities in business networks combined with growing economic, environmental and social challenges, will require companies to maintain more sustainable business practices in the future.

While for many companies, sustainability activities are driven by more stringent global regulation, the leaders in their industries have embarked on a journey to leverage sustainability as a driver of competitive differentiation. At the same time, those leaders renew confidence in all stakeholders, including customers, investors and society at large.

“SAP has a dual strategy when it comes to sustainability,” explained Graf. “In addition to setting clear targets to improve the sustainability of our own operations, we are delivering customer solutions—such as the SAP Business Suite 7.0 software — that can help companies manage complex business networks of partners, suppliers and sub-suppliers. Because a value chain can only be as sustainable as its weakest link, it is key to gain visibility into these business networks to holistically manage economic, environmental and social risks and opportunities.”

Graf highlighted how SAP addresses the various areas of sustainability, including sustainability performance management; carbon and energy management; product safety and stewardship; people, health and safety; environmental compliance; sustainable supply chains; and sustainable workforces, as well as “green IT”.

Hasso Plattner on a look into the future

While a significant portion of the SAP World Tour events focus on current business challenges, SAP Co-Founder Hasso Plattner provided a look into the future at the Mannheim, Germany event.

Picking up on the importance of delivering critical business information in real-time, Plattner stated “speed is money”, and predicted that in-memory databases will help companies make decisions with even more certainty by having access to instant, in-depth insight into both their own businesses and their networks.

SAP India calls to Indian companies to be clear enterprises

SAP customers, partners and industry experts in India gathered in New Delhi to explore how Indian companies can achieve transparency in every area of their operations to be best-run businesses in today’s challenging economic environment. Attendees at the annual event learned how to harness the power of SAP solutions to run lean operations, capture greater profitability and gain transparency in their operations. Around 1 000 business leaders, customers, partners, employees, analysts and media attended the event.

The tour ran four industry tracks, covering government, utilities, operational excellence and strategic IT. SAP customers delivering presentations at the SAP World Tour in India included noted enterprises ONGC, ABB, RIL, Unilevers, BPCL and Hero Honda.

In his keynote address, Ranjan Das, managing director of SAP India, called on Indian enterprises to “see clearly, think clearly and act clearly” in order to thrive in the current global economic crisis. To better navigate this crisis, Das encouraged executives to focus on making their organisations more efficient, flexible and transparent – and to open silos of information and processes for evaluation and transformation. He stressed that emerging technologies will facilitate this process and will radically change the way enterprises operate in the future.

“The current business climate is defined beyond an unpredictable economy. It’s driving a deeper level of structural change in every industry and market,” said Das. “To create competitive differentiators, companies must align business strategy, enable a strong IT roadmap and deliver measurable outcomes. This can be achieved though a persistent focus on value discovery and continuous innovation.”

SAP World Tour to run through November

The SAP World Tour will continue to explore how the SAP business software portfolio can help local companies with the execution of growth strategies and the delivery of value to their customers.

Events will run through November 2009, with dates recently added in North America. The customer-focused ecosystem is a vital part of SAP’s go-to-market strategy, thus the company also works closely with local and global partners for the SAP World Tour events, giving partners the opportunity to participate and showcase their offerings.

This year, the global sponsors to the tour that will be present at many locations are IBM, T-Systems, Adobe and Accenture. For more information and future tour dates, visit the SAP World Tour section of sap.com.


SAP is the world’s leading provider of business software(*), offering applications and services that enable companies of all sizes and in more than 25 industries to become best-run businesses. With more than 89 000 customers in over 120 countries, the company is listed on several exchanges, including the Frankfurt stock exchange and NYSE, under the symbol “SAP”. For more information, visit http://www.sap.com.

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