SAP Calls Itself an Innovation Company and Compares Itself to Apple

The day started with a big band sound. Max Weinberg and his band played and SAP’s CO-CEO Bill McDermott took the stage. He looked great – suave and smooth. He pointed to Max and his band. “Mighty Max!,” he said. He told Max that what he loves about him is his passion, that he was in the moment – a thinly veiled reference to the real-time services that SAP provides. Awkward perhaps, but it got the show started.

I came here to Orlando for SAP Sapphire to hear the SAP story that I have found resonating for this giant software company. In-memory analytics is a hot topic and it’s the one that SAP is trying to own. There’s still a question mark, though, if it can succeed with a strategy that has to make that end-to-end connection with real-time analytics and connections to people and process. It requires HANA for the analytics but also such services as Sybase, its mobile operating system and Sales onDemand, the social CRM and collaboration technology.

Connecting all those systems is as much a question for us as is any multi-billion dollar company with its roots in the rise of IT.

We are not exactly in the age of IT. It’s a new age that is better represented by Apple Computer than most any company in the enterprise space. But SAP is now comparing itself to Apple by calling itself an innovation company.

Apple is a company that you can easily define as innovative. It has core products. Its line of Mac Books, the iPad and the iPhone are what defines Apple’s image as arguably the most innovative company in the world.

It’s a bit more complex for SAP but the innovation is unquestionable. Joshua Greenbaum has been covering SAP for years.

“Yeah. I do,” Greenbaum said when I asked if SAP is an innovative company . “The problem is in articulating the strategy. There is so much innovation for it to surface in the right place at the right time. There is so much more they do. Rapd deployment, what they do with the SAP store, the SDK. “It’s so easy to look at Apple and point to the products that are innovative. It is much harder to do that with SAP.”

That’s fair enough and it echoes what Sameer Patel said to me today about Sales OnDemand. He said it take a lot of guts for SAP to strip out much of the product to focus on what sales people really want and then compliment it with collaboration.

We’ll hear more tomorrow about the innovation company that SAP professes to be. Executive board member Vishal Sikka and SAP Founder Dr. Hasso Plattner will be on stage.

What we hope to hear is more about developers. It’s the ecosystem that is important in these days so dominated by the spectre of data. Hope SAP builds a developer community will in large part define the kind of innovation company that observers expect SAP to be.

SAP paid for the writer’s airfare and hotel expenses for the SAP Sapphire event.

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