Whats making IT so sexy? Kagermann pointed to a radical change in how it is used. Instead of focusing on breakthrough products, technologys ability to radically restructure business models is what will make IT fascinating again, he said.
"Business model innovations will replace product innovation," he said, as a new awareness develops of the "transformational and strategic importance of IT."
SAPs chairman pointed to three key ways in which information technology has become critical to the world.
First, IT has become ubiquitous, part of our daily lives even more than we know. And that makes a computer failure—such as what happened during the 2003 blackout in New York—an incredibly important event even to people who dont use computers.
Second, scientific progress is impossible without computers. Advances in mathematics, physics and statistics just arent possible without computers.
And finally, Kagermann said he sees business and IT as inseparable. "Our industry started out as a tool, but today it is a catalyst for supporting business globally."
"The main benefit here today," he said, "is that access to the know-how is cast into software, and we call that best practices." And those benefits help companies beyond those in the developed world.
"This will help Russian oil, Chinese steel and water works in Namibia" as well, he said. "Today, emerging companies are able to adopt tried and tested principles of business much faster, and are able to compete globally much more rapidly."
Kagermann committed to refocusing SAP AG from creating tools to helping to transform corporate business models, and making it easy to experiment and refine those models as well. "In the future, customers will model their business processes rather than reprogramming them." He explained the concept with an automobile metaphor, likening it to fixing ones car without opening the hood.
The other three speakers at the opening event each echoed that theme of renewed tech-sector excitement and globalization. Each pointed to the growth of exhibitors—larger now than three years ago. Hannovers mayor, Herbert Schmalstieg, provided specifics: 6,270 companies from 69 companies, as evidence that CeBIT and technology are on the rise again.
Schmalstieg, the first speaker, kicked off the event with a look back at milestones that Germany is celebrating this year. "Sixty years ago saw the liberation of concentration camps, an end to dictatorship and fascism, and the start of the reconstruction." But thats not the only momentous anniversary. "Were also looking back on 15 years of reunification."