This month, Geraldine McBride, SAP Australia and New Zealand managing director and Leigh Warren, Oracle managing director for Australia and New Zealand tackle varied issues plaguing the enterprise software market.
Editor's note: This report was first published in Technology and Business magazine prior to Oracle's US$10.3 billion acquisition of PeopleSoft.
WARREN: What are the biggest challenges facing SAP in 2005?
MCBRIDE: Like any applications vendor, our biggest challenge is also our greatest opportunity -- ensuring that we continue to engage strongly with existing and new customers. It is also about clearly differentiating our product offering and different price points to different business segments. SAP's business success, with double-digit growth in a market averaging three percent growth year on year, is based on a very simple premise, that we deliver the most effective and efficient business solutions through long-term partnerships with our customers. To maintain our strong mid-market growth, particularly in the SMB sector, we aim to engage more strongly with our partners to drive awareness of the proven benefits of our solutions. Thankfully, we have many customers who are happy to talk about their successful implementations.
MCBRIDE: What are the major challenges you are facing in your new role?
WARREN: I'm very fortunate to be moving into the role of managing director at a time when Oracle's business is expanding rapidly.
Firstly, we are looking to extend our position of technology leadership, in particular by demonstrating the benefits of Grid Computing on Linux. Furthermore, we will be continuing to grow our applications business by focusing on industry-specific business solutions and utilising a concept we call the Oracle Information Architecture. Finally, we will focus on increasing the value of our partnerships to extend our reach both into the enterprise and into the mid-market arena.
If I have to single out one area where I think there is huge opportunity for growth, it would be in our applications business.
WARREN: Oracle has development centres in Melbourne and Brisbane. What degree of R&D commitment does SAP have in Australia?
MCBRIDE: We're very proud of our commitment to research in Australia. While seven SAP R&D labs exist around the world, one is in Brisbane, Queensland. This Corporate Research Centre (CRC) was opened in 2001 and partners with local universities such as Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
CRC is primarily focused on enabling research into business process technology, RFID, Web services, eLearning, and mobile computing.
Several global R&D projects are being led from Brisbane, putting the CRC at the centre of our worldwide technology development program. The centre has been a huge success for us: in 2003 it developed a CRM program designed to take the flexibility of call centres to the next level. This was so successful that it has been incorporated into SAP's underlying workflow technology.
This year, the Brisbane CRC won a contract to support the development of SAP Portals in Israel, now the primary IT solutions provider for the Israeli Government.