ORLANDO, FLA. — To hear industry observers tell it, SAP's recent acquisition of Sybase was clearly meant to chip away at the market share of rival Oracle. But at the opening of this year's SapphireNow annual conference here this week, SAP Co-CEO Bill McDermott took the industry rivalry one step further. During a simultaneous real-time virtual press conference from Orlando and Frankfurt, which kicked off the conference, McDermott and fellow co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe responded to speculation about the acquisition and outlined SAP's short-term company vision.
[Editors' Note: Additional coverage of SapphireNow '10 is available on destinationCRM (here) and destinationCRMblog.com (here and here).]
Speaking of their first 99 days as co-CEOs, Hagemann Snabe detailed SAP's goal to move itself into the mobile market.
"In some countries, the mobile device is the infrastructure," he said. "Mobile is the new desktop. Retailers are transforming their business to be responsive. The mobile we get with Sybase is the perfect end-to-end solution."
"We don't acquire to acquire market share or consolidate legacy," Hagemann Snabe continued. "We acquire to move the company forward. With the acquisition of Sybase...we become number one in mobile solutions. We believe in-memory technology will change the way data is captured, stored, and analyzed."
McDermott echoed Hagemann Snabe's comments but, in a subtle jab at Oracle, emphasized that the move was not about the bottom line, but rather about customer satisfaction and growth.
"Both of our companies are excited about this," McDermott said, "because it is focused on growth. Not like other acquisitions we've seen in northern California where 21,000 jobs have been cut and people have been demoralized."
Symbolically reinforcing SAP's desire to cut into Oracle's market share, the comments were clearly aimed at Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, which, according to rumors reported by The New York Times, led to the loss of at least 10,000 jobs.
Hagemann Snabe also addressed SAP's decision not to purchase a data-mining company. While he acknowledged that data mining is an important part of SAP's strategy going forward, he said believes the in-memory technology the company acquired from Sybase allows SAP to perform similar functions.
Vishal Sikka, SAP's chief technology officer — and self-proclaimed "newly minted" head of NetWeaver, SAP's middleware offering — claimed Sybase's in-memory technology can bring a deduction in cost, a simplification of technology layers, and an improvement in the overall system.
He also previewed appliance initiatives with Hewlett-Packard and IBM designed to expand on the in-memory work SAP has previously done with those two companies.
"We think that bringing real-time solutions together with in-memory technology is a much better approach than to take all the layers that have always been around and to put an appliance around them."
The executives also revealed the status of the long-awaited 2.5 version of its on-demand Business ByDesign offering.
"I feel comfortable," Hagemann Snabe said, "that this technology is now perfected."
The platform is being unveiled at SapphireNow and SAP plans to make the product generally available to customers in July.
"What we set out to do with Business ByDesign," Hagemann Snabe said, "was to change the current rules and offer a more-modern infrastructure for the on-demand business…. Today we already serve approximately 100 customers. Small companies run their entire business on Business ByDesign. It is not a fantasy. It is a real product."
Hagemann Snabe says the reason the launch took so long was because SAP wanted to perfect the infrastructure. Now, he said, SAP has the only on-demand solution with the ability to insert in-memory technology into the platform.
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