SAP’s CEO Bill McDermott Urges Business to Emphasize Customer Empathy and Co-Innovation

December 1, 2016

SAP is one of the world's largest enterprise software companies; in fact, 76% of all transactions run on SAP systems, which tallies to roughly $39 trillion in global commerce. The software giant has flourished in today's digital economy by dedicating its resources to helping businesses "run simple." Bill McDermott, the company's charismatic leader, and very much a self-made man, outlined a new vision for the software maker at SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP's premier customer event.

Marketers who lead consumer-centric or customer-focused business lives, will certainly applaud McDermott's emphasis on customer empathy as a mandate from the corner office. As marketing leaders play a larger role in contributing to the corporate vision and as their functions become more technology-dependent, it is well worth considering Bill McDermott's thoughts. He admitted before a SAPPHIRE NOW audience of more than 30,000 (with an additional 300,000 watching virtually) that the challenges and unpredictability of today's economy is a stark reminder that the customer determines whether businesses win or lose.

"Everything has to start with empathy for the end user and the experience they are getting from your company," said McDermott. "We feel strongly that design thinking and innovation is the way forward. So we truly have to understand that every encounter with our customers means that we have to understand their customers. We have to make the world run better, we have to improve people's lives one customer at a time, and that's the commitment I give to you today." Without question, empathy for the customer, and empathy for a customer's customer, represent a big shift for an enterprise-driven, global B2B operation.

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"SAP's CEO Bill McDermott Urges Business to Emphasize Customer Empathy and Co-Innovation." The Internationalist. Number 79, 2016.