Underlying McDermott's discussion was his contention that corporations contain vast amounts of "dark data." That dark data includes structured and unstructured data, which becomes useful and profitable when drawn into corporate analytics systems. The sports executives introduced by McDermott were equally enthusiastic about being able to offer new fan opportunities, both in stadium and at home, based on the illuminating of the data.
The B2B2C strategy is not without obstacles. Mobile data pushed to smartphones in the hands of particularly the millennial generation requires designing and deploying user interfaces that are modern and geared to each device. McDermott acknowledged that user interface design is now a "top priority" at SAP.
Also the illuminating of the data and, in fact, just about all of SAP's new products and services relies on the SAP HANA in-memory data appliance. HANA was part of nearly every presentation, and the company clearly is in a bet-the-company mode on the continued acceptance of HANA. The company has recently started offering HANA as a cloud-based service for customers reluctant to invest in the appliance. Also, the company is still in the process of HANA-enabling its core applications of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and financial services.
At Sapphire, SAP introduced a unified cloud portfolio to offer HANA services in four forms: on-premise, public cloud (HANA is available on Amazon), managed cloud and hybrid. The company is hoping that multiple deployment offerings will speed the HANA adoption.
SAP is undergoing change as evidenced at the first day of the Sapphire Now conference. As McDermott noted in his keynote, speed is now an essential component of business strategy. Whether SAP will be able to move sufficiently fast to meet the changing needs of the mobile, big data and cloud environment is still undetermined.
Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Eric Lundquist, who was editor in chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008, authors this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.