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Thought Leaders in Mobile and Social: Interview with Oliver Bussmann, CIO of SAP (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Feb 13th 2013

Oliver Bussmann is executive vice president and chief information officer of SAP AG. He counts 20 years of executive experience and previously worked for Allianz of America Corp. and Deutsche Bank. He is a pioneer of social media deployment for business-building and has received several awards, including the 2012 Social CIO and European CIO in the same year. In this interview, Oliver talks about how SAP applies social media in its business operations and how he envisions the merging of business and social life with new technologies in the future.

Sramana Mitra: Oliver, let’s start with a little bit about your background as well as what you do at SAP, especially as it relates to major trends inthe industry.

Oliver Bussmann: I have been the global chief information officer of SAP for the past three and a half years. I have been in the industry as a CEO for 20 years in the insurance business – at Allianz with [asset] management, at Deutsche Bank in the private banking business, and at IBM for seven years. So, I have a pretty good view of the high-tech and financial services sides, both as a vendor and customer. I worked for many years in San Francisco for Allianz on the insurance and asset management side, so I also have a global perspective.

My job at SAP is not only to run the business systems to support 70,000 users globally across all regions, but also to be in the driver’s seat for innovation. Over the past three years we have initiated a program to be the first movers, from a product perspective and also from any external innovation, between 12 and 18 months before others. I will give you an example: One of the first iPad uses on the enterprise side was in May 2010. At that time there was a lot of discussion going on if those consumer devices were ready for the enterprise business. We were able to manage those devices in a secure, professional way. Now we are the second largest user of tablets globally, with almost 20,000 devices. What we saw in the end on the mobile side is that the future desktop is a mobile one. Besides the 20,000 tablets, we deployed more than 20,000 iPhones, 4,000 Android devices and 16,000 RIM devices. We moved away from one corporate device to 10 corporate devices.

So we provide choice, and the consumerization of IT. Another thing we have learned is that whenever consumer devices are coming up, we are providing those new devices within weeks, instead of months or years like before. The consumer in our case is also an end user and an employee in the enterprise business. Consumers have great experience in their consumer business – in their consumer lives – exploring those gadgets. They have great experience and the same level of expertise to incorporate on a corporate level. That also means that bringing your personal devices is also a new trend on the mobile side. We believe it is unstoppable. The separation between personal and business life will fade over time, and lifestyle becomes work style at the end. We have deployed more than 5,000 personal devices and enabled them in more than 21 countries worldwide. We will continue doing that, and more countries will be enabled over time. That is the development on the consumer side.

The second dimension in the mobile topic are the mobile applications. In 2010 we started with mobile business intelligence dashboard report to enable executives to manage and steer the business from a revenue, sales, and financial perspective on their mobile devices – to have all information at any time, anywhere and in excess. We moved on to enable everything in the sales force on the road, enable CRM systems, product presentation, product information, pricing, etc. – whatever you need to fulfill your job in front of the customer.

The third area we heavily invested in was everything related to information management, providing access to news, customizing news by function or by region, investing in workflows – whatever we see today in the corporate portal. That service has now moved on to mobile devices: procurement, HR self-services, shopping carts, vacations requests, etc. Those are now all part of a mobile device.

The next category we heavily invested in is productivity tools – managing critical or confidential business information or documents in a secure way on a mobile device. Overall there are 50 apps and there are many more to come. We believe that a lot of business processes are being moved to mobile devices.

The third dimension on the mobile/consumerization topic is the whole support structure. We believe that going to an Apple store or Microsoft store is a great experience. You want to go back, test those devices and get help, because there is a Genius Bar out there helping you on the app side. On the device side there is a training area. We have done this already in 11 locations worldwide, providing this same kind of service. This means nicely designed areas where there is a lot of traffic and people can test our corporate devices. There is a Genius Bar, and  people help you explore new applications, new apps, and devices. There is also a training area and a repair shop. We moved our people directly in front of our internal end users. In the end, we believe the whole concept of mobility is changing massively in terms of how we do business internally and how we do business in front of our customers. We are coming up with new scenarios that we couldn’t do before.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Mobile and Social: Interview with Oliver Bussmann, CIO of SAP
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