Q & A with SAP CEO Bill McDermott: Market Dynamics and SAP Strategy

We recently talked with SAP CEO Bill McDermott to get his perspective on market dynamics and SAP strategy, SAP’s portfolio, and how companies can work with SAP to accelerate value creation through digital technologies.

In this Q&A series, we will feature highlights from the conversation on each of these topics. This installment focuses on market dynamics and SAP strategy.

Customers want to know what is fueling SAP. What do you hear from CEOs that forms the basis of SAP’s vision and strategy?

Two years ago, digital was a new trend, and the awareness was low. Today, companies and government agencies are thinking through how to transform the way they deliver existing products and services and create new ones. This is the essence of every conversation I have with leaders.

Companies directly interacting with consumers are further down this path, but other companies like oil and gas, transportation, and mining are waking up to Industry 4.0. In government, the cost of healthcare, the heavy trend towards urbanization, and education are just a few of the many pressing topics—connected cities, disaster preparedness—the list goes on and on.

When people need a burning platform, I give them this: half of last year’s Fortune 500 companies actually lost money. There is a tsunami of economic, societal, and environmental factors to address. Today, you’re seeing established companies shake things up on their own terms because a failure to do so from a position of strength will result in a fast decline.

It’s no longer a matter of “what if.” It’s all happening now.

Let’s keep to the big picture. Give us SAP’s vision and strategy. How should a customer look at SAP?

Our vision is ever consistent. We are focused on helping the world run better and improving people’s lives.

We have committed our people and products to address the world’s biggest economic, environmental, and societal issues. SAP® technology is helping to prevent and cure cancer, diabetes, and other diseases, monitor and forecast flooding, and protect people and property from fire in cities. Through Ariba® Network, as one example, companies are able to combat child labor with total transparency as to where products are coming from.

On the strategy side, we believe there is immense value in SAP aggregating all these emerging technologies—cloud, mobile, machine learning, blockchain, the Internet of everything— and combining them in the most integrated fashion to help businesses and governments reimagine business. With SAP HANA, we added a platform to our arsenal that gives our customers massive differentiation in a new economy that is 100% built on data. In the end, the single measure of our success has never changed: business value for our customers.

How do you make that vision and strategy sustainable? How are you strengthening the company?

One example is our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Our goal is to build a business beyond bias. We have a management team that is getting more diverse every year. Our employees make up more than 150 nationalities, and we have five generations of workers creating a new dynamic. We are the first multinational technology company to receive EDGE certification for our focus on gender diversity. To deliver value to our customers, we are committed to having a healthy, happy company that is totally inspired by our vision.

Download the entire Q&A with SAP CEO Bill McDermott.