SAP's CEO, Henning Kagerman, recently said somewhere, "SAP is a global company headquartered in Germany." In a similar vein Shai Agassi mentioned "Look, SAP is probably the most globalized company you can imagine. We have a headquarters in Germany, an hour south of Frankfurt. But the head of sales is in Paris. And the head of products is in Palo Alto. Our chairman is shuttling between all locations. We mirror our customers"
I've written before on the globalisation challenge at SAP. How SAP organises development clearly requies a global focus, and the HR and people management challenges are significant. I think, though, it is something that Kagermann and co take very seriously. SAP is probably one of the best examples of a global company, in that we don't force one dominant culture onto everyone. We make mistakes, but I think we understand how difficult it is, and that is the big part of managing this…
Over the weekend we had some Americans over to visit. Over coffee after watching a bit of the World Cup, they asked "have you seen the really funny new VW commercials showing in the US?"
"obviously, no, haven't watched US TV recently, Duh" we said.
This then got me thinking about SAP's marketing and positioning.
The VW adverts do a fabulous job
1) making fun of pimp your ride
2) making fun of german stereotypes.
They cleverely position solid German engineering at the same time. Pretty cool.
I think we can learn a bit from the chaps in Wolfsburg about marketing in a global world.
1. Be prepared to laugh at ourselves occasionally
2. Being German is not all bad.
3. Enterprise software is serious engineering.
Like, VW, SAP is a global company, with sales, marketing, engineering and design spread all over the world. Like VW, SAP has a strong German heritage. This hasn't stopped VW making use of its German roots in its branding. shock horror, the german engineering and design traditions and traits are pretty good building blocks for a great global software company too.???
German Engineering in the house….
Another thought from the commercial….
It is trendy at the moment to focus on pimping enterprise software, adding a little cool bit here and this extra bit here with this funky new 2.0 thingy and so on. What makes VW cars cool in this advert is their design. SAP's long term success will be based on great software design, not the latest and greatest GUI fashion.