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piece of paper and take photos, go back to headquarters, and put that information in a database. Then you have to go through the excruciating process of comparing that to the last 50 years of crop information to decide whether they owe the farmer something. There’s a lot of number crunching required to be able to do that. This is where the pairing of in-memory technology with mobile devices really becomes the killer app. To be able to put in the claims adjuster’s hands the ability to go out, work with the farmer, take photos, enter the information, and have that real-time analysis done using HANA is an accelerant. I don’t think people associate agriculture and big data, but actually it’s pretty amazing how much information goes into making a simple decision.

FP: How is the mobility piece changing the game for SAP? SL: The reality is that we are headed to a day and age where today it’s called the mobile device, but soon it will just be the device. If you think about SAP, we got our start in the technology world by innovating ERP and then we built these cool line of business applications, but that was really a data-in strategy. Companies needed a place to put their information. The challenge is that getting data in is very easy – getting it out is not so easy. So we bought BusinessObjects, which became our business analytics organisation, and that’s our data-out strategy. Then we saw this great migration of people putting down their laptops and picking up iPads. It’s like what happened when we went from desktop to laptop. So we acquired Sybase for mobility, and integrated it into the other two components, so regardless of what you are doing you can consume it on a device. This is the new SAP; it is all about ‘information in’ as a system of record, ‘information out’ as a system of engagement, and delivering it wherever you need it to be via a mobile device. And we have of course now started innovating below that stack in the database world. We want to be able to, as our CTO [chief technology officer] Vishal Sikka would say, free the screens – get them where people need them when they need them, make them compelling, engaging and highly desirable. The vision is a reality, it’s underway. But I think companies and customers need to appreciate that a real-time enterprise needs the right in-memory data model to deliver real-time information tied into your core operational analytic systems wherever you need them to be.

FP: Obviously that approach requires a certain level of cultural change within the organisations that are using SAP. How do you see that evolving? SL: I think the cultural change that happens with our customers actually needs to happen at SAP first. It starts from within. Since 2008, when the housing market collapsed, I have felt there has been this general undertone of agreement amongst most businesses that they need to change. I think that whole mess was a big wake-up call for a lot of industries. Our customers are asking us to help them transform. Bill [McDermott] and Jim [Hagemann Snabe] have really been driving this change [to thinking about SAP as a business

Inside SAP Winter 2011  

All the latest on SAP in Australia and New Zealand.