SAP's McDermott: Middle managers should not be data reporters

SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott talks at DEMO conference about the importance of bringing real-time business data to mobile devices as a means of improving efficiency among middle managers.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive

Middle managers who act as reporters - that is, those who take data from the front lines of the operation, crunch the numbers and then report back to executives or the board - are on the way out.

On stage at the DEMO conference in Silicon Valley today, SAP CEO Bill McDermott introduced a business analytics app for the iPad that does the number crunching for a company - sales, finances, inventories - and takes that away from middle managers.

McDermott talked about in-memory data on the app from a private cloud, the ability to instantly access hundreds of millions of records. It's all about speed - real-time processing and analyzing of data so that businesses can respond faster.

But the bigger message was that the device matters. On stage, McDermott said there will be 6.5 million managers running business applications on their hips by 2014. The device is important, he said. Sure, public clouds and private clouds matter - but where the data resides shouldn't come into play when managers need information. If that data is accessible any any given moment, right there on the hip, that's where efficiency improves.

McDermott also said the push into mobile is why its $5.8 billion acquisition of Sybase earlier this year was so important. That acquisition initially prompted some head-scratching and some wondered if it was one way for the company to stick it to Oracle and reduce its dependence on Oracle databases. There was also thoughts that the push into mobile would be a slow to move the tick for SAP.

Related: SAP's Sybase acquisition: Handicapping the big questions

On stage, McDermott scored a few chuckles when he spoke about SAP's partners. The company is a partner with Oracle, he said, but that doesn't necessarily mean the execs are happy about it. But, at the end of the day, SAP's customers are using Oracle databases and SAP needs to be where its customers are.

At the end of the day, it all comes back to efficiency. Middle managers shouldn't be "reporters" of data, he said. Instead, they should be leaders and decision makers - doing things to help the company run smoother.

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