Oliver Bussmann joined SAP in July 2009 and has had 20 years in the IT industry. He started his career at IBM and has worked for Deutsche Bank and Allianz Group, latterly in the banking section.
A passionate supporter of tablets and green computing, Bussmann raided eyebrows when he rolled out iPads across SAP shortly after joining. He took time out to speak to V3.co.uk about his strategy.
Most CIOs say it takes a year or two in the job to really get a handle on it. You've been at SAP for 18 months. How's it working out?
I'm feeling good about it. It's fun to be part of SAP, a high-speed, high-tech innovation company. It's been exciting to be part of the change with Bill [McDermott] and Jim [Hagemann] and developing the strategy of driving innovation in the business.
Within a year of your joining there were a lot of senior management changes at SAP, including the loss of chief executive Léo Apotheker. How did that affect your ability to get things done?
Actually not that much. I'd joined just before in mid-June but we'd put together a solid technology strategy in the first six months with all the heads of business. We got full sign off by the end of the year, and now we're focused on pushing it forward.
How large is the infrastructure you've got to manage?
Well we've centralised all business systems infrastructure into one datacentre in Germany. On a day-to-day basis I have two responsibilities. Firstly there's the typical CIO job to support lines of business and to make certain that operational systems are up and running. We manage all global systems in one place, and that level of centralisation and standardisation is pretty big.
But my other job to is provide the infrastructure for 13,000 developers so they can run their own businesses. We have development houses in different regions, and we're running 20,000 servers in the datacentre to support them.
You've been very vocal in your support of tablets for business, and in being multi-platform. What makes you such a fan?
From our perspective the tablet is a business tool. We saw that early on and business development got excited to get the first applications out there. Being at SAP and supporting tablets is one of my duties, and developing applications for the iPad and other devices. We've realised a lot of advantages in using tablets in our environment.
Chiefly the tablet is all about office productivity: access to email, secure VPN connectivity and getting access to all corporate applications over Citrix. We also make all tools available for different user groups and put it all on the tablet.
The benefit of all this is that our executives go into meetings with a tablet and have all the business information at their fingertips. You don't have to be limited to static figures; you can do this in real time. It's a huge win to have information available all of the time.
When you deployed the first iPads the developers got priority, then executives and then sales staff. In most businesses it's the big bosses that get them first. What was your rationale for the deployment?
Well first we had to get them to the developers to get the applications. Then when we looked at the different user groups it was the executives who were targeted because they needed access to the information.
The third workforce we went for was the mobile workforce. Sales and marketing need access to customer contact information as well as presentations and access to other environments.
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