Britt Technology Impact Series

Ahead in the Cloud: Thriving in the Marketplace of Tomorrow

May 3, 2012 • Tuck Campus

Ahead in the Cloud: Thriving in the Marketplace of Tomorrow Photo

Cloud computing often draws praise as a disruptive technology that will recast business models and ways of thinking within the enterprise. The business case can appear compelling. But even the most promising changes carry risk. In an innovate-or-die marketplace how does the enterprise balance a need to implement continuous change without compromising performance? Bill McDermott, co-CEO at SAP AG, champions “software innovation without disruption.” This is critical for the three quarters of the Fortune 500 and more than 180,000 customers that run SAP’s enterprise application software. The need by the enterprise to implement strategically imperative changes in short periods will be one of the defining characteristics of the marketplace of tomorrow. Balancing innovation with reliability will be one of its defining challenges.

Bill McDermott was appointed co-CEO of SAP alongside Jim Hagemann Snabe on February 7, 2010. In this capacity, and also as a member of the Executive Board of SAP, he oversees SAP’s strategic business activities relative to all customer operations, sales, marketing, communications, field services, consulting, corporate development, and ecosystem activities.

As the world’s leading provider of business software, SAP is an over €50 billion company with more than €12 billion in revenue in 2010. SAP’s more than 54,000 employees and its vast ecosystem enable 183,000 customers of all sizes in more than 25 industries and 130 countries worldwide. SAP AG is headquartered in Walldorf, Germany, and McDermott is based at the company’s North American headquarters location in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. McDermott was first named to the SAP Executive Board in 2008 to manage global field operations, a responsibility he continues to maintain as co-CEO. During this time, McDermott has been instrumental in re-architecting the company’s go-to-market strategy, closely aligning the field organizations, and product development teams led by co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe.

Prior to this role on the SAP Executive Board, he led SAP’s operations in the Americas (United States, Canada, and Latin America) and Asia-Pacific Japan regions. Since his arrival in 2002, the company has delivered unparalleled growth in market share, revenue, and customer satisfaction in key markets. Before joining SAP, McDermott served as executive vice president of Worldwide Sales & Operations at Siebel Systems, and president of Gartner, Inc., where he led the company’s core operations. He spent 17 years at Xerox Corporation, where he progressively rose through the ranks to become the company’s youngest corporate officer and division president. He also served on the board of directors for two company subsidiaries. In 1997, through his leadership, McDermott’s division received the Malcolm Baldrige Award, presented annually by the President of the United States to businesses judged to be outstanding in several areas. McDermott is a member of several external boards, including the boards of ANSYS, a company that designs and develops engineering simulation solutions used to predict how product designs will behave in manufacturing and real-world environments; and Under Armour, a performance apparel company dedicated to technologically advanced products. He is a member of the National Advisory Board for KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) and the Advisory Board for Villanova University.

In November 2010, as part of Computer Reseller News (CRN) magazine’s annual recognition of the Top 100 executives in information technology, McDermott was named among the Top 25 Most Influential Executives of 2010. Additionally, McDermott was named to the Irish America magazine’s 2010 Business 100 for outstanding business leadership. McDermott is an active community leader and advocate for corporate social responsibility. In 2008, he was named “Idealist of the Year” by City Year Greater Philadelphia for his civic leadership and “commitment to improving the community and the lives of those who live in Philadelphia.” In 2006, McDermott received the Yitzhak Rabin Public Services Award in recognition of his contributions as a civic leader who has demonstrated a commitment to Israel as a source of technological innovation. In 2005, McDermott was elected to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing three million companies and organizations, and to the Chamber Foundation Board.

McDermott received an MBA degree from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, and he completed the Executive Development Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Graduate School of Management. He received his B.S. degree in business administration from Dowling College.

Leadership, cloud computing, social networking and risk with Bill McDermott.

Hear highlights of Bill’s talk from May, 2012.

With Sara Russo T’11

Bill discusses leadership, SAP’s mission and their triple play on sustainability.

  • Bill and Eric talk about the differences between private clouds and public clouds in their relation to making an enterprise run better and innovate faster. Of SAP, Bill says, "You have to disrupt your business model before someone else does it for you." Bill says SAP is a serial innovator and they are going to be bold, everywhere.

  • Bill answers a question from the audience about small and medium sized businesses using SAP in the cloud. "If we don't innovate," he says, "we go away, just like all the other dinosaurs."

  • Eric and Bill shake hands at the end of the discussion.


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