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SAP concluded a very successful MBA business case competition in the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame this past Friday.  Five student teams of three each presented their observations and recommendations to a panel of SAP judges regarding the strategic question “What should SAP Do to Expand its Cloud
Business and Offerings?”  The winning team of Rico Mallozzi, Mike Scharf, and Phil Stout will be awarded a trip to SAPPHIRE next May in Orlando to learn more about SAP and build the professional connections that are part of SAP’s premier customer event.

The case competition was introduced by Steve Shute – SAP Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Midwest Region on November 17th.  Steve shared his executive perspective on SAP’s evolving business model, our cloud strategy and the opportunity/challenge for our customers in the cloud.  We provided the background materials for the case which included the recently published Harvard Business School case “SAP – Reaching for the Cloud”, two research reports on the cloud marketplace and an SAP strategy overview.  Steve happens to be a Notre Dame MBA graduate so it was particularly nice to have him back on campus to share his experiences.

On November 21st, SAP CEO Bill McDermott hosted an exclusive meeting with the five teams of Notre Dame MBA students in the competition  The focus of this small group discussion was to hear Bill’s perspective on SAP’s Cloud strategy and how it fits into our overall vision to help the world run better and improve the lives of people everywhere.  Students were able to ask questions about the challenges of repositioning SAP products and services for the Cloud and the opportunity to accelerate the process of innovation with our customers.   Several elements of our strategy, including the recent acquisition of Concur and the IBM Cloud alliance were discussed in detail.

The teams were provided with 30 minutes each to present their findings and recommendations to an SAP panel on December 5th.  Jim Bowler, SAP Vice President Services and Michelle Murray, Director Early Talent Program NA Services, joined me as judges.  It was particularly interesting and rewarding to hear the recommendations of each case team which were quite diverse in approach and content.  We were impressed with the obvious hard work and preparation that went into the presentations and heard some very creative ideas.  It was a very difficult to choose a winner but in the end we were blown away with the professionalism and bold ideas of the winning team.

The case competition is an important element of our SAP University Alliances strategy to engage students in the strategic issues of our industry, expose SAP leaders to the ideas of outstanding students, and strengthen our academic working relationship with universities.