Interview: SAP CEO Bill McDermott

The full Q&A with SAP's chief exec, covering S/4 HANA, the Concur acquisition, and the move to the cloud

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Interview: SAP CEO Bill McDermott McDermott: I couldn't be more confident in the Concur acquisition. (Daniel Roland | AFP | Getty Images)
By  Tom Paye Published  February 9, 2015

On a recent trip to Dubai, where he gave a presentation on career advancement, SAP CEO Bill McDermott found time to speak to ITP.net on the company's strategy, its acquisition of Concur, and its transition to becoming a cloud-centric vendor.

SAP has come under fire from some corners for its acquisition of expense-management vendor Concur, but McDermott - who is also backed by analysts - is bullish on SAP's opportunities in the space. Here's his take on the state of SAP now:  

ITP.net: Could you provide us with an idea on SAP's current strategy?

BM: In 2010, we had the bold vision to essentially change the world with SAP HANA. We knew data was doubling every 12 months, we knew transactional and unstructured information needed to managed in a common platform, and we knew that yesterday's database could not keep pace with tomorrow's challenges. Therefore, the bedrock of the SAP company is SAP HANA as a platform.

Now, there's S/4 HANA - S for simple, 4 for fourth-generation ERP - HANA. Now you can have a fully integrated database and application stack where you can run the whole suite on HANA. And, yes, if you choose to, you can also run it in the cloud. But most importantly, the user experience is HTML5, Facebook-like quality and beauty, it's beautiful to consume on the mobile, and completely game changing.

Going to the cloud, obviously, there are a lot of customers that are quite concerned these days about the freeflow of information in the global economy, the importance of managing data in a highly secure way, and of course protecting the individual privacy of people. Therefore, it's important that you can provide choice. What we do at a line-of-business executive level of human capital management, with sales and customer engagement, commerce, of course you can get that in a public cloud, you can also get that in a private cloud. And many customers will take their ERP systems and run these cloud procedures in a hybrid model.

Finally, I wanted to make mention of something that I think is the future of computing, and it's something that we've been building on for five years, and obviously something that our competition has no understanding of. As important in the global economy as it is to digitise processes within your company - you clearly need to do that - it may be even more important to digitise commerce between companies. And we have defined the category called the business network. Now, if you think about Amazon, eBay and Alibaba, these are consumer networks that are all doing pretty well, and have high valuations. We actually have a business network that has more than double the amount of commerce running through it than Alibaba, eBay and Amazon combined - nearly a trillion US dollars. And it's an addressable market of $10 trillion.

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