In the days of mainframe computing, punch cards, and COBOL programming, five entrepreneurial engineers had a vision. It was to create a standard application software that processes data in real-time. IBM engineers Dietmar Hopp, Hans-Werner Hector, Hasso Plattner, Klaus Tschira, and Claus Wellenreuther saw the potential of a technology that could change the way business was done. It’s been forty-seven years since its founding in 1972, and SAP SE, the leading enterprise software solutions company, is still burning bright today.
Currently serving 404,000 customers in 180 countries, the company is one of the world’s best brands. At the closing of Q1 2019, SAP’s revenue was at $6.8 billion – a 6.5% year-on-year growth. The total revenue of SAP reached a massive $24.7 billion in 2018. Its growing market reach and future technology innovations are undoubtedly the linchpins for success. Within the company, SAP stands strong with 96,000 employees and holds a reputation as one of the Best Places to Work.
SAP has a robust revenue growth, strong corporate culture, and the drive to continuously provide innovative enterprise software solutions. The company is no less than the leading enterprise resource planning software in the world today.
The Early Years: Building on Innovation
The founders of the business and the SAP technology were all born out of IBM’s AI Department. In 1971, five engineers took on the task to create business systems for a major client. Unfortunately, the project did not push through. However, they decided to develop the technology seeing how revolutionary the concept was. The group made a leap of faith, left IBM and started a company called SAP Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung (System Analysis and Program Development).
SAP completed its first financial accounting system called RF, which serves as the foundation of subsequent SAP technology. SAP’s first commercial product called SAP R/1, was launched in 1973 and was used by a handful of early customers. Yet by the end of 1974, their customer base grew to 40 companies. As the team continuously incorporate additional applications, new versions of the SAP technology were introduced in the market in the coming years. From this point, the innovation that the SAP technology introduced spread like wildfire across businesses.
A year after its 20th anniversary, in 1993, the company began working with Microsoft on a project to anchor SAP technology with Windows NT operating system. On this same year, SAP began laying the groundwork for international expansion. A development center was installed near Silicon Valley in Foster City, California. The support for the Japanese market ushered in entry to the Asian market.
SAP Technology: Reaching Across Industries and Functions
The evolution of SAP technology has been meticulous and steady throughout the years. From SAP R/1 in 1973 to SAP R/3 in 1992 and SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) 5.0 in 2004, the world’s foremost enterprise software solutions company has therefore released the most recent enhancement in 2016– the SAP ERP 6.0. These enhancements were then deployed in order to deliver new functionalities and innovation for its core application without disrupting the business of its customers.
To date, SAP’s broad client base includes large corporations and small and medium-sized businesses. Similarly, SAP technology cuts across various functions including human resources, production, materials management, financials, controlling, sales and quality management. The estimate is that more than three-quarters of all global business transactions have come in contact with SAP technology. Such depth and breadth of reach were therefore made possible by the company’s growth strategy through acquisitions and a solid focus on developing innovations.
Onward and Forward With SAP’s Enterprise Software Solutions
SAP as an enterprise software solutions company is at the forefront of a new phase called Cloud Computing. SAP acquired a host of cloud-based companies such as SuccessFactors, Ariba, and Concur. In 2013, SAP launched a massive Cloud-based ERP service by deploying a network of seven data centers around the globe.
Besides cloud-based platforms and applications, the company launched SAP Leonardo – a set of software and services focused on new technology such as the Internet of Things (IOT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Analytics, and Blockchain. SAP is also looking at improving user experience and user interface through a collection of SAP Apps called SAP Fiori. From on-premise enterprise software solutions, the company is gearing up to diversify its SAP technology offerings.
From its humble beginnings in Weinheim, Germany to a billion dollar venture with a prominent presence in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, North America, and South America, SAP technology has transformed how businesses do business. And it will continue to do so as SAP relentlessly work in bringing more computing innovations to the fore.
For more on SAP CEO Bill McDermott, check out this week’s Bold Leader Spotlight.