SAP CEO: “We’re swinging. We’re a startup again.”



SAP was founded way back in 1972, but recently they’ve shown that they’re still agile and aggressive. Only this week, it made a move into the events and concerts vertical with the acquisition of Ticket-Web.

But it’s also innovating in house. In less than two years, it launched SAP HANA as a freestanding product, ramped sales up to more than € 300 million per year, and recently announced that it would use Hana as the platform powering their all important products in the Business Suite.

It launched an Innovation Center in 2011, and it’s reaching out to the startup community to convince it to start developing applications on top of SAP HANA. This week, it announced that it’s moving into a vertical: the event and sports ticketing service.

SAP clearly shifted gears in the last years. In a recent interview, CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe summarized it like this: “The three last years have been a giant leap for the company. We are swinging. We’re a startup again.”

Hagemann Snabe also laid out how he wants SAP to reach beyond megacorps that it currently counts as its customers. It wants to open up SAP as a platform for third party developers and startups, who can use the technology to develop applications that are too low volume for SAP to pursue, but which might still be extremely juicy as long as you’re not a firm with € 16 billion in annual revenue.

It’s not an App Store but a SAP Store, and Snabe admits freely that it’s an idea that he took from Apple.

In 2012, it generated 500 000 downloads for over 2000 products, but that’s only a start, thinks Snabe. He estimates that it should be perfectly possible to find a million third party developers for this kind of thing (Snabe likes to think in millions,  he also thinks SAP is going to find another million customers in China – more than 5 times the number of customers it has now!).

SAP is already working with 150 startups who can use SAP HANA to develop calculation heavy applications.

Snabe further said that after a few huge acquisitions in cloud and mobile, mostly for the know how, the company wants to concentrate on in house innovation again, and on customer intimacy. Unlike Oracle, which does about ten acquisitions a year, Snabe thinks a company shouldn’t derive more than a third of its revenue from acquisitions. “That would be proof that you’re not innovating. Your core competency becomes finance, not software.”

[Wirtschaftsblatt] [Photo: Flickr]

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Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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