By Julie Bort
SAP, the enterprise software company, has a crazy ambition. It wants to get a billion people using its software by 2015.
That's about double the footprint the company has now—and a lofty goal for a company that, despite its reach into the innards of businesses, is hardly a household name.
The plan largely rests in the hands of Sanjay Poonen, who heads the company's mobile division and is also responsible for its analytics, database, and technology products.
Poonen talked with Business Insider this week and told us how SAP's going to do it: mobile apps, mobile apps, and more mobile apps, with a little cloud mixed in.
Just to give that billion-user goal some context: Apple has sold about a half a billion iPhones and iPads so far, although at the rate it is selling them, it should hit the billion mark by 2015, too.
Still, it's one thing for the beloved gadget maker to get a billion mobile customers. It's quite another for a company best known for its business-finance software.
So here's the plan:
Here's a lightly edited transcript of our conversation with Poonen.
How far away are you from your goal of having a billion users by 2015?
Among our 200,000 customers, there's at least a half a billion employees, maybe closer to a billion. So if we can touch every one of those employees, then we're substantially closer to that goal.
What's the plan to "touch" all of these employees?
We seek to be the Apple of enterprise mobility. People used to think of SAP as back-office. But the more that you touch every employee, those on the front line, people in services and on shop floors—the way you get to those folks are through mobile devices. Many of them don't have desktop computers. They may not know or care who SAP is.
The second [area] is retail and banking, where we sell a mobile solution that touches the consumer. For instance, we sell a mobile banking solution in significant parts of Asia to banks. Take one of our large banks we're working with in Bangladesh called Dutch-Bangla Bank. They have a couple of million users today but they plan to get mobile banking to half the population of Bangladesh. That's 80 million people. Those 80 million people have never seen an ATM card, don't know what a bank looks like, but they all have a phone. Now they can get their account balance, maybe use SMS to do a micropayment.
SAP has been willing to buy its way to growth lately with some pretty large acquisitions. Are you going to make another big deal to reach your billion-user goal?
In the mobile area, we've only done two acquisitions, Sybase and Syclo. We are always looking at the ways we can expand our footprint. We tend to see ourselves as way ahead in enterprise mobility. There aren't any big players out there ahead of us in enterprise mobility. We never say no to things. We will look at tuck-in acquisitions and in many cases partner. And SAP Ventures is looking at mobile startups.
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AltaFlux Corporation is a global HCM cloud consulting partner based in Troy, Michigan. We empower organizations by streamlining, transforming, and optimizing key human capital management (HCM) processes with industry-leading HCM cloud solutions like SAP SuccessFactors, Benefitfocus, WorkForce Software and Dell Boomi.