Jim Hagemann Snabe – I’ve spent time on five different boards, including SAP’s of course. This year, I was asked to be the chairman of board of A. P. Moller Maersk, the largest container shipping and logistics company in the world. In January next year, I’m nominated to take over as supervisory board chairman of Siemens, one of the world’s largest industrial conglomerates. On top of that, I’ve kept my role at Allianz, where I’m now a vice chairman.
what could SAP’s contribution be to them?
In manufacturing, the assumption so far was that companies relied on mass production in low-cost locations. I think we’re now moving production back closer to the customer. Instead of mass-producing, companies will be producing individual items and, as such, delivering more accurately on individual customers’ needs. I actually believe that we have an opportunity now to rethink the value chain and move toward more circular economy concepts where we don’t consume resources, but use them and give them back ‒ for a much more sustainable future.
I believe that we now probably have the biggest opportunity ever in terms of creating a society that is significantly better than the one we have today. We can create or reinvent entire value chains for something that’s better, more individual, and much more sustainable. The challenge will be the transformation itself. How do you get there? It’s a very big change, so it will dramatically change the way we do things: It will challenge existing jobs and create new ones. So major reskilling will be necessary.
I believe the winners will be the companies that master the physical and the digital worlds in parallel. And a lot of the work I do in my board roles is to help accelerate the digital dimension in physical companies like Siemens and A. P. Moller Maersk, so they can master both in parallel.
What is your message to SAP employees?
Jim: First of all, I miss everyone at SAP. Secondly, I would send a big thanks to Bill McDermott for being such a great partner, leader and friend. SAP is a very special company with not just a big brain, but also a big heart and very capable hands. I would urge everyone to be extremely proud of what you’ve achieved and of the special DNA that the company has. Keep that!
At the same time, my message would be: Be ambitious and challenge assumptions! Because you can’t succeed in the future by looking back at historic successes. You have to keep challenging your assumptions so that you always stay relevant and ahead of the game. SAP has proven its ability to reinvent itself from a position of strength. Keep doing that, at an even higher pace in the future.
My third message would be: Make sure you develop the capabilities that matter the most! Which is really about unleashing human potential and allowing experiments, while increasing efficiency at the same time. Being ambitious on efficiency unleashes the capacity and investment opportunity for the experiments, and it’s the experiments that will create the future. But you have to make sure those two elements go hand in hand.
My last point is: Never forget the customer! The companies that fail to reinvent themselves from a position of strength are those who get obsessed with themselves. I believe that SAP has always been about the customer, and if we keep that in mind, the company has the potential to be extremely successful in the future.
SAP clearly plays a very important role in the world. That’s a reason to be proud, but it also carries enormous obligations.
(Just copy from SAP and using it for my-self, do not use this if do not ask)