by Kurt Bilafer, Global Vice President – Business Analytics & Technology

It was great to see so many of you at SAPPHIRE Madrid, both on the show floor and in the Business Analytics team’s presentations.

We talked a lot at SAPPHIRE about SAP as a platform, and I had some great conversations with partners who’ve already built on our platform, some of you who are thinking about it, and some of you who still aren’t sure what it is and what it all means.

No matter which camp you’re in, there was an unmistakable buzz in the keynotes and meeting rooms and tapas bars about the changes at SAP, so let me elaborate on what SAP as a platform means for us and for you.

The big change is the quest for the “whole product”, as defined by tech marketing guru Geoffrey Moore in Crossing the Chasm, one of my favorite business books. SAP is on a quest for the whole product—lots of them. To reach our goal of a billion users by 2015, it’s imperative.

What is the whole product?

One example Moore uses is the radio frequency identification (RFID) technology developed by Savi. As a startup, the company scored a big win when the U.S. military adopted its RFID inventory tracking system for Operation Desert Storm. But, despite this early success they still didn’t have a commercially viable product.

Savi ‘crossed the chasm’ into the mainstream by applying its technology to just-in-time inventory systems for manufacturing. But to do that, they had to go beyond RFID tags and scanners. They had to build a whole suite of products and services to let all the different players across the manufacturing value chain interact seamlessly with the system.

Easy, right? I knew Vic Verma back when he was crossing the chasm as CEO of Savi, and I can tell you what Moore describes in two pages took three years to execute. Savi had to improve communication and transparency up and down the value chain. They had to field an experienced and passionate team, and they had to build credibility, which can only be done over time by delivering on promises and commitments.

The same challenges face SAP as we evolve to a platform company. Although we’re pretty far removed from our startup days, we have a new chasm to cross, and we’re looking for more than a few good partners to join us on our quest for the whole product.

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