SAP CEO Bill McDermott: “Keeping an Enterprise Behemoth on Course”


SAP CEO Bill McDermott together with Joanne Gordon has written a memoir entitled “Winners Dream: A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office” and was awarded a gold medal for the business memoir of the year by the Axiom Business Book Awards in 2015.

SAP CEO Bill McDermott has shared his insights on business strategies and acquisitions in the session on “Keeping an Enterprise Behemoth on Course” at the recently concluded TC Sessions: 2019 held in San Francisco, the first TechCrunch event dedicated to the enterprise.

McDermott emphasized in the conference session that protecting the enterprises’ core businesses while expanding the “perimeter” is one of the fundamental roles of enterprise leaders. He stressed that market leaders need to continue developing innovative solutions and creating new business models to maintain leadership status. McDermott said:

“Change is unbelievably fast, but remember, the world will never move this slowly again.”

With regards to the importance of bold leadership, the SAP CEO shared:

 “We had a $110 billion addressable market in 2010, but if you were spending time addressing ‘today’ problems, we would lose the opportunity of tomorrow.” 

From $110 billion in 2010, SAP’s addressable market has grown to $400 billion today.

On Taking the Bold Move

Since becoming the SAP CEO in 2014 and the first American given the role, McDermott has led the enterprise’s growth and market capitalization alongside several key cloud-based acquisitions. He narrated:

 “If you look at our business in 2010, we had zero cloud revenue. Now we will have a $15 billion cloud business by 2023. If we hadn’t made those decisions (to buy cloud companies), we wouldn’t be in that position.”

One of the most-valued and bold acquisitions of SAP this year was that of the experience management (XM) software category global pioneer Qualtrics. Mcdermott explained that the deal was more like how it was with the earlier tech industry mega-deals such as Apple’s 1996 acquisition of NeXT, which brought Steve Jobs back to the company he co-founded. The same scenario has happened to EMC’s 2003 acquisition of VMWare and the subsequent purchase of EMC by Dell in 2016. He exclaimed:

“Those were acquisitions that changed the industry. Similarly, the Qualtrics deal will be just as transformational for SAP and the software industry.”

The SAP leader described Qualtrics as “the elixir to serve our customers” in the experience economy. He added:

 “It’s a key part of our strategy to be the fastest-growing enterprise company.”

He further explained that adding that the combination of experience (X-data) and operational (O-data) data on the SAP platform can change experiences for people around the world, making their engagement with companies “simple and beautiful.”

The software giant’s market capitalization has increased from $40 to $150 billion since McDermott’s leadership, a quadruple growth in just a decade. He mentioned that the company has quintupled the customers that it serves. On giving credit to the customers, he expressed:

 “You need loyal customers and a mindset at the company that’s focused on the customer.”

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