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Products, Research & Development, and Services

  • In 2015, we unveiled SAP S/4HANA, a next-generation business suite designed to provide the digital core our customers need to run their entire business in a digitized world.
  • Our Business Network Group includes SAP Ariba, Concur, and SAP Fieldglass solutions, all supporting the interaction of companies with the outside world.
  • Our Global Service & Support organization guides companies at every stage of their digital transformation by accelerating innovation, driving simplification of business and IT, and ensuring business value is realized.

Unlocking the Potential of Digital Transformation

For leading companies, the question is no longer whether they need to become a digital business, but how. The role of software has moved beyond enabling the realization of business strategy to becoming an intrinsic part of that strategy. In an increasingly complex landscape – with the amount of stored data doubling every 18 months – speed, innovation, and agility are the new differentiators. It is not just about doing yesterday’s work faster. Companies in every industry must take a unified approach to managing every aspect of their business, and they need solutions whose innovation matches their own ambitions to grow and win in the market.

In 2015, we unveiled one of the most important products in our history: SAP S/4HANA, our next-generation business suite, designed to provide the digital core our customers need to run their entire business in the new digital world. We expect SAP S/4HANA to drive our business for years to come, enabling companies to integrate their core business processes with running their key operations, from their supply chain to their workforce. With SAP S/4HANA, we provide companies a full business platform to reimagine their businesses and achieve the creation of their own next-generation products and services so critical in the digital economy.

SAP S/4HANA creates unique opportunities to simplify the IT landscape, helps reduce total cost of ownership with SAP HANA, and provides a simple and role-based user experience. Enterprises can now reduce their data footprint and work with larger data sets in one system to save hardware costs, operational costs, and time as well as reduce complexity.

After launching in February 2015, over 2,700 customers have chosen SAP S/4HANA, with approximately 100 customers live at the end of 2015.

Driving Simplicity and Innovation Through SAP HANA and SAP HANA Cloud Platform

SAP HANA remains at the center of our strategy to help our customers transform their businesses. The SAP HANA platform combines database, data processing, integration, and application platform capabilities in-memory. By providing advanced capabilities such as predictive analytics on the same architecture, it further simplifies application development and processing across Big Data sources and structures.

The SAP HANA Vora engine adds a new dimension to these capabilities, allowing our customers to combine their business data with Big Data managed on Hadoop compute clusters. It simplifies ownership of Big Data and supports faster, interactive, and more precise decision making.

In addition to expanding our own portfolio, we are enabling others to develop a much broader landscape of applications through SAP HANA Cloud Platform, our strategic platform-as-a-service offering. Providing both ease and flexibility, this cloud platform allows our customers and partners to build, extend, run, and sell applications and services in the cloud. It includes infrastructure, data, and storage, as well as a toolbox of platform and application extension services. SAP HANA Cloud Platform also enables connectivity between SAP solutions, including on-premise software such as SAP Business Suite as well as software-as-a-service offerings such as SAP SuccessFactors solutions.

Building on our experience, we are developing a suite of SAP solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT). The functionalities of our SAP HANA Cloud Platform IoT services help accelerate development and deployment, as well as improve the ability to manage real-time IoT and machine-to-machine applications. To support the development of these new innovations, we continue to leverage our customer co-innovation framework, which helps us address the evolving digitization needs of our customers.

The road to becoming a digital business is unique to every organization. Our portfolio supports our customers wherever they are on their journey. We want to offer the broadest integration in the industry, with customers seamlessly connecting SAP and third-party software across a range of environments to reduce IT complexity. At the same time, our user experience provides both elegance and ease-of-use across multiple devices and interfaces. Customers also have the benefits of efficiency and flexibility through a variety of deployment models.

Launching SAP S/4HANA

SAP S/4HANA represents a huge step forward in simplifying how applications are built, consumed, and deployed. It provides real-time, mission-critical industry-specific business processes across organizations and lines of business. As a basis, enterprises can now support end-to-end operations across key business functions through a fully digitized enterprise management solution named SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management.

A prime example of our innovations is SAP S/4HANA Finance, a comprehensive solution for the office of the CFO. This solution brings enhanced functionality to a range of key areas – from financial planning and analysis to collaborative finance operations. It also provides our customers with seamless flexibility, with deployment either on premise or in the cloud.

Beyond SAP S/4HANA Finance, the on-premise edition of SAP S/4HANA drives business value in other areas such as materials management as well as sales and distribution, among others, taking full advantage of a simplified data model and a responsive user experience.

Innovating for Industries and Lines of Business

As the market leader in enterprise application software, we offer end-to-end solutions specific to 25 industries and 12 lines of business, localized by country and for companies of any size.


Industry Sector


Industry Portfolio



SAP for Consumer Products

SAP for Life Sciences

SAP for Retail

SAP for Wholesale Distribution

Discrete manufacturing


SAP for Aerospace & Defense

SAP for Automotive

SAP for High Tech

SAP for Industrial Machinery & Components

Energy and natural resources


SAP for Chemicals

SAP for Mill Products

SAP for Mining

SAP for Oil & Gas

SAP for Utilities

Financial services


SAP for Banking

SAP for Insurance

Public services


SAP for Defense & Security

SAP for Healthcare

SAP for Higher Education & Research

SAP for Public Sector



SAP for Engineering, Construction & Operations

SAP for Media

SAP for Professional Services

SAP for Sports & Entertainment

SAP for Telecommunications

SAP for Travel & Transportation

Lines of Business

  • Asset Management
  • Commerce
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing
  • R&D/Engineering
  • Sales
  • Service
  • Sourcing and Procurement
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainability

In addition, we are building other functional innovations that serve each line of business. For example:

Human capital management (HCM): Our HCM solutions, including SAP SuccessFactors solutions, help organizations increase the value of their total workforce by developing, managing, engaging, and empowering their people. These solutions address the full range of HR needs, from hiring the right people and managing contingent workers to simplifying the way people work. We focus on delivering a simple and intuitive user experience through mobile device or desktop.

Customer engagement and commerce (CEC): Our CEC solutions comprise SAP and SAP Hybris software that serve the commerce, marketing, sales, and service lines of business, enabling business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies to provide real-time, consistent, contextual, and relevant experiences to their customers. Regardless of channel or device, these solutions deliver personalized engagement based on context and proven industry expertise and therefore go beyond traditional customer relationship management, which no longer meets the needs of today’s consumer-driven market.

Providing Users with Freedom, Flexibility, and Elegant Design

We believe digital transformation must include a focus on the user experience, as expectations by our customers – and their customers – have risen enormously in recent years. For many, mobile has become the technology of choice, providing simple, always-on access to information, processes, and services. To that end, key mobile services such as app creation and management, security, and extensibility are available as part of SAP HANA Cloud Platform, giving our customers simple access to the technologies that support new business models.

Providing an elegant, intuitive user experience, SAP Fiori has evolved since its introduction in 2013 into the new user experience (UX) for SAP software. It reflects a broader shift in software design that puts as much focus on how people actually use technology as on specific features and functions. SAP Fiori offers innovative new features such as improved contextual interaction and action-oriented personal notifications. The updated design delivers improvements while staying consistent with our original UX principles of being role-based, responsive, simple, coherent, and delightful.

We were awarded the prestigious Red Dot Award for the SAP Fiori UX design concept in the Interaction Category in September 2015.

Delivering Greater Value Through the Power of Business Networks

In today’s hyperconnected business landscape, how companies interact with the outside world is undergoing profound change. At SAP, we are helping to lead this transformation through our business networks, which are helping drive innovation in key areas that impact an organization’s core operations. Our business network strategy is to bring the world’s vast network of partners, suppliers, and services to best-in-class solutions that fulfill the needs of specific lines of business – all within a few clicks. Moving far beyond basic automation, our network solutions are enabling new processes and outcomes for customers. They are also part of a new wave of solutions that are more consumer-friendly and business-ready than in the past.

We recognize that business applications today must deliver an effortless user experience while ensuring that information and data flow back into the business and across networks in a secure way. These applications serve to maintain compliance while enabling choice. They are designed for a more digital, highly mobile, and interconnected world, and help drive greater value for employees, organizations, and the vast networks of partners and individuals they rely on.

Today, our business network portfolio includes SAP Ariba, Concur, and SAP Fieldglass solutions. Each is a leading provider of cloud applications, services, and cloud networks through open platforms that connect internal business processes to a global ecosystem of partners.

The Ariba Network is a leading marketplace used by approximately two million companies to discover, connect, and collaborate over US$740 billion in commerce every year. The network connects companies across the full commerce process – from sourcing through payment settlement. It also provides insights and technology to help companies improve their operations – and to connect and collaborate in new ways that are only possible in a networked environment.

Concur Travel & Expense is the world’s leading travel and expense management system, with more than 32 million users. The Concur system goes beyond the basic automation of expense reports and provides visibility and insights that support better decision making for employee travel and spend, helping businesses to focus on what matters most.

SAP Fieldglass solutions simplify the process of procuring and managing external workforce services. They provide visibility into service providers and non-employee workers and help improve compliance and cost control. As a centralized, single point of access to engage with more than 1.9 million external workers in approximately 130 countries, SAP Fieldglass solutions connect consultancies, staffing firms, independent contractors, and other service providers, so business users can procure services from anywhere in the world with just a few clicks. As an open platform, SAP Fieldglass also connects to financial, HR, payroll, and procurement systems.

Each of these three cloud network companies has made connecting to partners, suppliers, and services through an open platform a core part of their architecture and approach. Ultimately, we aim to go further, connecting all the world’s networks. We are working to create platforms for networks and services that will further transform the business landscape – with the purpose of creating new outcomes, services and experiences that make businesses run more simply and with greater opportunities for innovation.

Providing Real-Time, Advanced Analytics to Drive Better Decision Making

The speed of the digital economy demands that companies make informed decisions faster than ever before, as data can become obsolete in a matter of seconds. SAP HANA has vastly increased the efficiency with which our customers can use analytics to drive decision making. With transactions and analytics combined into a single in-memory platform, our customers can access a “single source of truth” for real-time planning, execution, reporting, analysis, and predictive modeling on very large volumes of data.

In 2015, we further simplified our offering with the introduction of the SAP Cloud for Analytics solution, a software as a service that aims to bring all analytics capabilities together for a richer user experience.

Based on SAP Cloud for Analytics, we also launched SAP Digital Boardroom, a multifaceted solution that offers executive decision makers new ease and elegance in accessing company data in real time, and the ability to engage in what-if queries and create visualizations. Designed to provide far greater transparency to board members, executives, and other decision makers, fully automated business intelligence capabilities in the solution not only improve the quality and speed of reporting, but also facilitate greater trust through more effective collaboration and decision making.

Whether in the cloud, on premise, or a combination of the two, our analytics solutions enable our customers to access immediate, actionable intelligence. Even as data volumes grow exponentially, companies can simplify their business processes and gain insights to better manage every aspect of their organization – from integrated planning to risk and compliance.

Among other features, key analytics solutions from SAP support:

  • Trusted data discovery and agile visualization to bring reliable data to life in real time through intuitive visualizations
  • Advanced analytics to combine the power of predictive processing with intuitive modeling and advanced data visualization
  • Corporate performance management to set and track measurable performance objectives through planning, budgeting, forecasting, and financial consolidation tools

Research and Development

With businesses shifting at an ever-accelerating pace towards digitalization and the cloud, leading our customers through change is more important than ever before. We do this every day by empowering our employees and collaborating with our customers to develop world-class software and next-generation solutions. SAP further strengthened our global research and development (R&D) efforts in 2015 by investing in our SAP Labs network and the new SAP Innovation Center Network.

Nearly all of our software products are developed at our 15 SAP Labs locations in 13 countries across the globe. This global reach means that we have access to leading talent worldwide; in addition, we can collaborate with top universities throughout the world and have access to major technology hubs as well as diverse and vibrant startup communities. By understanding trends in different regions, as well as the specific needs of our customers that operate there, SAP has a major strategic advantage in developing products and services for the future.

In addition to our SAP Labs, we also expanded from two SAP Innovation Center locations to an SAP Innovation Center Network of 10 locations across four continents. This network is a dedicated unit within our development organization that is responsible for identifying new markets for SAP and pioneering game-changing solutions using transformational technologies. Through the SAP Innovation Center Network, we can closely collaborate with customers, partners, and academia to explore trends such as machine learning and block chain, among others.

We have identified several key markets and opportunities that hold significant revenue potential and allow us to apply our unique capabilities. Currently, areas include future enterprise applications, personalized medicine, and smart cities. We are tackling a range of challenges facing these areas, from designing the future of business software to developing new approaches to treating cancer and helping decrease traffic congestion.

Our revitalized research organization has become an applied research entity with its main focus on machine learning for enterprise applications, personalized medicine, in-memory data management, and security. Our new research approach focuses sharply on potential business impact while collaborating with the best research institutions worldwide for selected topics.

Our innovation stems from many places, and we draw on the ideas of our customers, partners, startups, academia, and, most importantly, our own employees. Our overarching goal is to foster organic innovation and support the transformation of great ideas into profitable business. In support of this vision, we established a Company-wide “intrapreneurship” program that enables employees to develop their ideas in an internal incubator at SAP.

In addition to our employees, our customers provide us with unique insights about their business models and digitization challenges. We also work with customers on co-innovation and custom development projects. Our partners and their solutions enhance these efforts in a range of ways, such as at our SAP Co-Innovation Lab locations, which support engagements ranging from strategic alliances to key proofs of concept.

R&D Investment

SAP’s strong commitment to R&D is reflected in our expenditures: In 2015, we increased our R&D expense (IFRS) by €515 million, to €2,845 million (2014: €2,331 million). We spent 13.7% of total revenue on R&D in 2015 (2014: 13.3%). Our non-IFRS R&D expense as a portion of total operating expenses declined slightly from 18.5% to 18.3% year-over-year.

At the end of 2015, our total full-time equivalent (FTE) count in development work was 20,938 (2014: 18,908). Measured in FTEs, our R&D headcount was 27% of total headcount (2014: 25%). Total R&D expense not only includes our own personnel costs but also the external cost of works and services from the providers and cooperation partners we work with to deliver and enhance our products. We also incur external costs for translating, localizing, and testing products, for obtaining certification for them in different markets, patent attorney services and fees, strategy consulting, and the professional development of our R&D workforce.



As a market leader in enterprise applications, SAP actively seeks intellectual property protection for innovations and proprietary information. Our software innovations continue to strengthen our market position in business solutions and services. Our investment in R&D has resulted in numerous patents. As at December 31, 2015, SAP holds a total of more than 7,224 validated patents worldwide. Of these, 893 were granted and validated in 2015.

While our intellectual property is important to our success, we believe our business as a whole is not dependent on any particular patent.

Guiding Our Customers Through Every Step of Their Digital Transformation

In addition to creating new solutions for the digital era, we recognize that we must partner with our customers to help them make the most of these innovations based on their unique needs and goals. Through our worldwide service and support, we guide companies at every stage of their digital transformation. We focus on creating and delivering strategies for our customers’ digital journey, accelerating innovation, driving simplification of business and IT, and ensuring that expected business value is realized and continuously optimized.

In 2015, we radically simplified how we engage with our customers and deliver services, greatly harmonizing our portfolio. Under the new SAP ONE Service approach, we also introduced a new commercial model providing one service portfolio, out of one global organization, and under one contract.

We see enormous potential for our customers to simplify their own businesses and seize new opportunities through SAP HANA, with SAP S/4HANA as their new digital core. For this reason, adoption of these innovations is a key pillar in our service and support strategy. To ensure the expected customer outcomes, we offer high-value services tailored to the various customer scenarios supporting the adoption of SAP S/4HANA:

  • System conversion: Customers changing their current SAP system to SAP S/4HANA
  • Landscape transformation: Customers consolidating their landscape or carving out selected entities or processes into a system running SAP S/4HANA
  • New implementation: Customers migrating from a third-party legacy system or installation of SAP S/4HANA for a new customer

In mid-2015, we also introduced SAP Activate, an innovation adoption framework to further support the fast and effective implementation of SAP S/4HANA. Offering a unique combination of SAP Best Practices and guided configuration, the new methodology provides ready-to-run digitized business processes optimized for SAP S/4HANA. It allows customers to flexibly choose the approach for their business needs, from a new implementation to an integration to a migration scenario.

As they continue on their path to digitization, we work with large enterprise customers to forge a co-engineering and co-innovation relationship, so that they can influence and shape existing SAP solutions while gaining early access to product innovation. We help define future software solution standards together with our customers in comprehensive engagements and serve as a trusted advisor during delivery of innovative solutions for the future.

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