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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
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[update: you can now see the recording of Bill's and Jim's presentation on the SAP Virtual Event site]

With a DJ and rockin’ intro video, SAPPHIRE NOW Madrid kicked off with with a bang.

Linzie Janis, host of Bloomberg Television’s Countdown, opened the session and introduced co-CEO Bill McDermott. Unfortunately, because of a death in the family, Bill couldn’t join the session in Madrid, and so joined virtually via satellite from Utah.

During the Q&A session, Bill McDermott went over his origins as an entrepreneur, emphasizing his early lessons in the importance of being customer-centric.

He talked about the big changes we’ve seen in business over the last decades, and how power has moved from enterprises to consumers. He explained that all the customers he’s met recently, in a wide variety of different industries, are trying to shift from “products” to immersive customer “experiences.”

To support these efforts, four disruptive “Nexus” forces are coming together: social, mobile, big data, and cloud. Bill gave examples of each, such as how important mobile is in Africa: “In Africa, people skip meals to pay their mobile phone bill”  -- and companies like Standard Bank are revolutionizing the banking business via mobile devices, and bringing the “unbanked” into the economy.

Bill talked about how companies like Office Max are using SAP’s cloud-based social collaboration platform, SAP Jam, to let employees collaboratively discuss how to improve the business.

As an example of leading-edge use of information, he mentioned how Burberry is not only using HANA to gather information about stock, but they’re also intimately aware of your likes and tastes, and are using this information to provide sales employees in stores with information on mobile devices.

Finally, he gave the example of a healthcare insurance company in Brazil that was able to reduce the time it took to issue a new policy from 7 days down to just 10 seconds using the SAP HANA technology.

When it comes to the cloud, Bill wanted to reset people’s view of SAP: “Everything we do is cloud-enabled. Today, we have 17 million users running SAP software in the cloud – more than any other company in the world. So we are all about the cloud.”

He summarized the Nexus by saying that the number one priority for 72% of CIOs today is to provide a next-generation experience for their customers, encompassing social, mobile, big data, and cloud – and then announced the new SAP360 Customer solution that takes SAP CRM to the next level, using all these new approaches:

Powered by the SAP HANA® platform, the solution will harness the power of in-memory computing, cloud, enterprise mobility and collaboration to allow organizations to revolutionize the way they engage with their customers beyond traditional customer relationship management (CRM).

Looking to the future, Bill gave examples of how SAP has been working with customers using Design Thinking.  According to Bill, the process involves three different aspects:

  • Desirability – is it something worth going after?
  • Feasability -- can we pull it off?
  • Viability -- is there a real business case?

He cited examples of working to supercharge Emirates Airlines’ frequent flying program and working with Greyhound Bus customers on what the company could do to improve the experience (in-bus WIFI and an application to give estimated time of arrival).

Next, Zeinal Bava the CEO of Portugal Telecom came on stage, and talked about how the company has “innovated of necessity” because of market threats to the fixed-line telecom industry. Zeinal mentioned that his company had been inspired, working with SAP on areas such as cloud and mobility. When Bill asked him about how the company had handled the culture changes necessary, Zeinal said “We moved away from thinking we had all the answers, and started listening to our customers”

Bill talked about the importance of small businesses to SAP, with offers like Business One on HANA, and Business ByDesign in the cloud, accessible from mobile devices. He cited m-way, who make eco-friendly bikes, running B1 in the cloud.

He finished up with a video talking about SAP’s corporate social responsibility, and showed a video of the how The Desmond Tutu HIV foundation have using SAP to improve their social mission. It has made them 30% more efficient, and they now pass audits with flying colors, so donors are keen to invest.