A Good Example

Olivier Bussmann, CIO of SAP

SAP is a German enterprise that develops business software, which it markets to 183,000 customers worldwide. The company employs almost 55,000 people spread over more than 75 countries. In 2011, SAP generated revenues of 14 billion euros. Oliver Bussmann has been the CIO at SAP since 2009.

IT is not just what SAP sells, it is also something the company itself uses particularly intensively. Oliver Bussmann has performed an optimisation exercise on various fronts. He focused first of all on the operational aspect, which included increasing the availability of the systems for SAP’s 15,000 developers. IT is also involved in a major transformation operation.

“Our aim is to post a turnover of 20 billion in 2015”, says Oliver Bussmann. “At the same time, we want to increase our margin from 30 to 35 percent.” In order to achieve these results, SAP is also counting on the innovative capabilities of its own IT department. Oliver Bussmann has transformed the silos of the IT department into an agile organisation able to satisfy the plans for the business.

Bussmann’s most important accomplishment has been the ‘SAP runs SAP’ programme. As a result of this, SAP itself is now the software company’s number one reference customer. Oliver Bussmann: “This means that we are best placed to know how to improve our products and services.” A central aspect of the programme is the close relationship between the IT department and SAP’s development team.

The IT department provides the developers with regular feedback, which they can immediately translate into software improvements. Whenever new products or services are available, SAP starts using them first, generally six to twelve months before the rest of the market. The programme also explores possible synergies with other technologies. One outcome of this is that SAP’s IT department already now supports more than 15,000 iPads.

Three learnings of Oliver Bussmann

  1. Look for the added value of IT.
    In three years, SAP transformed its IT organisation from a black box into a force that drives real and profound change.
  2. Think like your customer.
    SAP grew to become the largest customer for its own software. This gives the company an insight that all other customers enjoy.
  3. Know your customer.
    In 2011, Oliver Bussmann had 250 meetings with CIOs and IT managers of customers that themselves want to achieve more using SAP.

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