Leadership, Culture and Salesmanship

The Experience Zone at SAPPHIRE HOW
The Experience Zone at SAPPHIRE HOW

In his opening keynote of SAPPHIRE NOW 2015, Bill McDermott presented a refined pitch on S4/HANA expounding on the Run Simple theme introduced last year.

In the opening video the audience was posed key questions that are facing businesses today in the crazy continuous whitewater world that we live in.

“How can I move from reporting on the past to predicting the future?”

“How can I run simple in a complex world?”

“How can I overcome challenges that I don’t even know I have yet?”

In all of these the answer was presented as S/4 HANA.

Bill is the consummate salesman, even starting with an anecdote on how he created empathy and trust by holding on to a cat that lept into his arms when calling on a prospect. I got the feeling that he didn’t like cats and the typewriter he had just carried the flights of stairs was weighing heavily on his arms. Instead of shooing the cat, he held onto it and made it look like he loved cats. He earned the customers trust and in turn the sale.

Trust and empathy are the new black it would seem and these are available from S/4 HANA in spades because all the data operational and analytical are sourced off one single source of truth.

Under Armour shared their vision of connecting with the customer in any geography, in any channel, in any device. Deriving more value out of connected data and athlete communities.

How they execute on this? The answer is to have all the data connected on one S4/HANA system.

Adverbs and adjectives abounded: Breathtakingly, Simple, Gorgeous. Bill is a man with a simple focus on a simple vision and he is communicating it as well as a man who can hang onto an angry cat.

What remains to be seen is how the customers catch this and how it applies to a companies individual use case.

There were also announcements on partnerships with Facebook and Google without too much detail as to what those partnerships consisted of. I was able to find a press-release but during the keynote there was little fleshed out on either of these.

What impressed me about the talk and the subsequent press session was:

  1. It was not only on time it was under time. Hopefully this is a trend not only for the keynotes on Wednesday and Thursday.
  2. The Experience Zone (pictured above) was an immersive experience. I am a sucker for great AV presentations and great production values.
  3. Bill cares about his team and was quick to ‘big up’ Steve Lucas ( President, Platform Solutions ) and Jonathon Betcher ( Chief Digital Officer ) who were sharing the stage with him.
  4. Bill is creating culture and is a leader that his stamped his influence over the ‘Run Simple’ message and that is bringing transformation in the whole company.


I am looking forward to the other keynotes later this week to see what other insights we are getting about SAP’s direction.