SAP AG (SAP) opened a development centre yesterday outside Berlin, underscoring a commitment by the software maker’s billionaire founder Hasso Plattner to incubate new technology and foster young programmers.
The innovation centre sits on a lakeside 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) from the research institute that bears the SAP chairman and co-founder’s name. SAP plans to make it a key development hub and will potentially double its staff to 150 to work closely with technology startups, said a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the plan isn’t public.
“SAP has to be closer to the 150,000 students in Potsdam and Berlin,” Plattner said, wearing a rumpled purple sweater and addressing a room full of staff, customers and journalists. “Not everyone wants to come to Walldorf.”
Plattner, who turned 70 last month, is referring to SAP’s headquarters more than 400 kilometers southwest of Berlin. The billionaire remains involved in the software vendor he helped found 42 years ago as it undertakes a tricky transition from programs for managing supply chains and financial systems installed on customers’ computer servers to newer cloud-computing applications delivered over the Internet.
SAP has already pushed back a profitability target because rented Web software costs less upfront than the programs it traditionally offered. It also requires a simpler user interface and the ability to develop products SAP can continually update online.
“Those two things have been traditionally difficult for SAP, but we have been putting a lot of energy into that recently,” Vishal Sikka, SAP’s chief technology officer and a board member, said in a recent interview.
It’s a priority for SAP to make its software easier to use in an era dominated by smartphones and technology companies such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., Plattner said today.
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