Business

Consumerisation driving IT policy, says SAP information chief

Oliver Bussman of SAP
Image caption Oliver Bussman of SAP says his biggest technology problem is the consumerisation of IT.

Each week we ask high-profile technology decision-makers three questions.

This week it is Oliver Bussman, chief information officer (CIO) of SAP AG.

SAP aims to help companies of all sizes and industries run better through the use of its enterprise application software.

The German company has more than 170,000 customers globally using the company's applications and services, and had revenue of 12.5bn euros in 2010. SAP employs nearly 54,000 people in 50 countries.

What's your biggest technology problem right now?

In my opinion it is the consumerisation of IT.

By this I mean that technology trends are driving technology adoption, I tend to say "lifestyle is becoming work style", end-user demands are shaping the IT strategy.

As CIO it is my job to make sure our employees can take advantage of new technology quickly. I have to stay ahead of the trends. We were one of the first larger companies to adopt the iPad, which had made us a major player in the mobile industry.

Because mobile is changing the market rapidly I have to implement this new device quickly. SAP has a device agnostic approach, meaning we can run pretty much any mobile device on our infrastructure. Today it is the iPad but the next big thing is just around the corner.

During customer meetings I am frequently being asked how to leverage massive amounts of customer data for a competitive advantage, which leads me into question number 2.

What's the next big tech thing in your industry?

Actually, I can give my opinion as CIO of SAP and as an SAP Customer.

Big data - in other words real real-time decision making for enterprises.

At SAP we see three new technologies driving the business IT innovation circle, namely mobility, in-memory and cloud computing.

SAP In-Memory Computing is enabling a new reality of amazing new applications, breakthrough analytics and simplified IT landscapes. We are bringing together in-memory, mobile and cloud-computing technologies to help customers form real-time business networks.

Enterprise mobility will enable completely new business scenarios. In-memory computing will enable the merger of transactional systems and analytical landscapes, enabling real-time insights and reducing TCO (total cost of ownership).

I am an SAP customer in the form of SAP Runs SAP.

SAP Runs SAP means partnering with our development and sales organisation as an early adopter of emerging technologies and solution enhancements - in many cases we are our own first customer.

We can use the technology and give feedback to the development and sales organization to make our software run even better.

What's the biggest technology mistake you've ever made - either at work or in your own life?

In 1990 I had a chance to develop applications on touch screens to navigate through to self-service applications for banking customers for IBM.

They were huge screens, by the way, and weighed half a ton.

I saw the potential, but really the biggest mistake was over time, to underestimate the benefits or in other words miss the opportunity that Apple took in putting this together with the iPhone smartphone and tablet, which opened a huge market field.

It shows sometimes that you think there is something new, and it takes 20 years to really become a consumer product.

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