Sramana Mitra: As you work on of figuring out what the best IT strategies are – mobile, social, cloud and big data – can you identify things you would like to do but are not able to because you haven’t been able to find a product or a solution? Maybe you could do it by putting in a lot of custom development efforts, but if people get something off the shelf that would really tempt you, what would that product be?
Oliver Bussmann: I think it is important to mention – and is also important for your readers – that we have set up an innovation culture in SAP. We have portfolios where we developed a new innovation topic – small teams with four to five business products in IT – and see if we can use it, what its business value is, if we can use it for mass deployment, etc. We do this with more than 100 projects in big data, analytics, the cloud, and social. The way we interact with applications and information has changed fundamentally over the past few years.
The key topic will be that we won’t need the keyboard and mouse anymore. Tablets and mobile devices are great for consuming content. If you want to generate and modify content, you still need a keyboard, a laptop, or a desktop. I am waiting for a revolution, and I think it will take another two or three years before you are able to develop that information – a Word or a PowerPoint, for example, where you no longer need a physical keyboard and mouse. That change is what I am waiting for. The biggest issue right now is that you still need a tablet and a notebook on the road if you want to modify your business content.
SM: I imagine that a lot of your workforce actually needs to produce content.
OB: That is correct. Touchscreens, for example, are old. I developed the first touchscreen application on banking machines in the 1990s. But they were heavy and big. So, I am waiting for voice gestures to move us into a different way of how we interact with our mobile apps and content.
SM: They type of company of which you are the CIO is particularly heavy on people needing to interface with computers as producers, not just as consumers. If you shift industries and go to a different business, I think it will be much more plausible. In retail, for instance, not everybody is sitting in front of a computer and needs to enter information, and what needs to be entered could very well be done through tablets.
OB: If a startup finds a solution to overcome that, it would be great. For example, MIT’s SixthSense Technology is something that could take off in the next two years. It can either be voices or gestures that replace the keyboard and mouse. I think this will dramatically change how we do business.
SM: I cannot imagine how anybody would write an article or a computer program without using a keyboard.
OB: Those devices will display a keyboard, so there will be a virtual keyboard instead of a physical one.
SM: This has been very interesting. Thank you for your time.
OB: Thank you, my pleasure.