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Former Member
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Last week I met with journalists and industry analysts to share my thoughts on our outstanding 2015 results and what’s in store for 2016. The region Europe, Middle East and Africa is so diverse that of course you could argue that there’s no one truth across the region. But as I went from one interview to another, I realized that some elements hold true whether you’re talking about Africa, Germany, the Middle East or Spain. Let me share a few of those.

Greatest achievement in 2015

A journalist from Turkey asked me what I thought my team’s greatest achievement in 2015 was. I have always believed that in our industry there is one metric that counts more than any other. And it’s not revenue growth, although of course that’s important and EMEA did extremely well there (11% increase in cloud and software revenue). The greatest indicator of present and future success though, hands down, is market growth.

In 2015 my team brought on 5,000 new customers, many in already very mature markets. Many large companies. And many adopted our industry solutions. New customers means we’re beating the competition. More importantly though, it points to long term growth. That’s because while we’re just beginning our journey with these 5,000 new customers, we know that once they see the huge value SAP brings to their business, we’ll grow our collaborations in other areas and for the years to come. That’s why I’m so proud of this achievement. 

Optimistic for 2016

The other question I heard a few times was what were my expectations for 2016 for the region? As we see in the headlines and hear from Davos, world leaders are concerned about the macroeconomics in the region. And rightly so. The UK is considering whether to leave the EU (let’s hope not). There is political instability in parts of Eastern and Southern Europe. Oil prices continue to decline. And immigration is a major concern in Europe.

People make the difference

That said, there are two important reasons why I remain optimistic about our regional business in 2016.

First, because people make the difference.

At our annual internal kickoff last week, I went from meeting to meeting. In just a few days, I must have met with at least 30 teams. And while it wasn’t a surprise, I have to say I was blown away by the strength of my team. They understand the business. They’re asking the right questions. They believe in our strategy. They’re hugely motivated. And they want to help our customers transform their businesses digitally and win in 2016. That energy and momentum I believe will counter any of macroeconomic issues that we face. When you have a winning team, you can do anything. There are no limits.

The time to innovate is now

The second reason I’m optimistic for 2016 is that companies in Europe understand they don’t have a choice, they have to innovate. They have been cutting costs since 2008 which they had to do to survive. But now they understand if they don’t find new ways to grow their business they won’t make it.

Across the region, companies are exploring how they can take advantage of the innovations available in this digital era. SAP had the foresight to anticipate this need and to develop cutting edge innovations, across the board, to help our customers succeed in this digital era. Our 2015 results show in no uncertain terms that our customers are on board. They believe in our strategy of innovating across the core, the cloud and business networks to help them win in this digital  

So I remain optimistic about the year to come for Europe, Middle East and Africa. We’re gaining market share. We have the best team. And we have the best offering on the market. And finally our mission is clear - in 2016 we will continue to show our customers in the region the NEW art of the possible to transform their businesses and win in this digital world. Mark my words.

Franck Cohen