SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott explains its five-market focus

Mobility, analytics, Big Data, applications and the cloud

If you think SAP equals ERP, Bill McDermott would like a few minutes to set you straight about the 2012 version of the software giant, which he claims is in the midst of "an intellectual renewal." McDermott has been co-CEO -- along with Jim Hagemann Snabe -- of SAP since 2010 and has helped broaden the company's strategy beyond traditional applications and analytics to the cloud, mobile, Big Data and a bet-the-business focus on real-time computing with the HANA in-memory database at the forefront.

In this installment of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series, McDermott spoke to Computerworld Senior Editor Patrick Thibodeau and IDG Enterprise Chief Content Officer John Gallant spoke with McDermott about SAP's slow start in the cloud market -- which ramped up dramatically with the $3.4 billion acquisition of SuccessFactors -- its efforts to take database share from rival Oracle and how HANA changes everything. McDermott also discussed why having two CEOs -- which has sometimes been a recipe for disaster in the business world -- works uniquely well for SAP.

One of the key goals of the CEO Interview Series is to ensure that IT leaders understand in depth the strategies of key tech companies. So let's begin with your perspective on SAP's strategy, where SAP is going and how that differs from some of the major competitors that you face.

We see a five-market focus for SAP. When we put together the strategy in February 2010, we looked at the areas that were going to grow the fastest and were going to matter the most to the world, and we formed a vision to make the world run better and improve people's lives. We saw mobility as being an unstoppable force, [so] giving the customer a platform where they can run their applications in a secure environment, where you can manage the devices, but also manage processes -- people to people, company to company -- using mobility.

The second one was analytics. There are the day-to-day applications with embedded analytics and nice visuals -- and obviously that ties into the mobile -- but analytics keeps growing because people want insight into the business. Whether it's a department leader or a CEO, everybody wants to know what's happening. We continue to be the leader in analytics and to invest in analytics. We just released a new platform for analytics and we're excited about that.

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