SAP Co-founder Discusses Competitors, Potential Buyers

ORLANDO, Fla.—Hasso Plattner, co-founder of SAP AG, the world’s largest software developer, said he views three companies as potential competitors in the next five years: Oracle, Microsoft and Google.

“I still regard Oracle as a competitor,” said Plattner during a news conference at SAP’s annual Sapphire user event May 16-18 here.

“But sooner or later, someone’s going to ask the question [to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison]: ‘What did you do with my $20 billion dollars [spent during an ongoing two-year acquisition spree]? Its shareholders’ money, not his. Then there’s Microsoft. Then Google… If Google buys Oracle, I’m shaking in my pants.”

In 10 years, Plattner said there will be an Asian company in the top-tier competitive mix—a main reason SAP is focusing its energies on the Asian market.

Plattner said there was a similarly diminutive group of companies that could potentially acquire SAP: IBM, Microsoft and Google.

“I don’t see any more,” said Plattner, stressing that SAP is not involved in any merger discussions.

Plattner, who is the chief of SAP’s supervisory board, spent much of his time at this year’s Sapphire user conference discussing innovation—and the necessity of innovating through design.

During a keynote address May 18, Plattner discussed how companies—particularly SAP—have to stimulate creativity in order to innovate and prosper.

“We have to do more, do breakthrough innovation to differentiate ourselves,” said Plattner.

“What we create today might become a commodity in the future.”

To read more about SAP’s mySAP suite, click here.

To this end, Plattner said companies have to think of production in a holistic way—laterally as opposed to systematically—starting with users (watching, learning and reading to figure out their daily experience).

Plattner said it is also important to add expertise from different disciplines to a design concept team.

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