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Strategy and Business Model

  • SAP offers a portfolio of solutions built around SAP HANA providing organizations with what they need to become sustainable digital businesses.
  • Our business helps create long-term value by addressing customers’ current and future needs.
  • We use both financial and non-financial indicators to measure our success.

Helping Our Customers Reimagine Their Businesses

The world is experiencing unprecedented change that is transforming both our use of technology and society more broadly. People are connected in ways like never before. Entire industries have been disrupted by innovations that have brought the once unimaginable within reach. Technology trends such as hyperconnectivity, cloud computing, and Big Data go hand-in-hand with social and business trends that are changing how we live and work. Rapid urbanization, the sharing economy, enormous demographic change, and resource scarcity are demanding that leaders of tomorrow adapt to a world in which the pace of change continues to accelerate.

To remain competitive – and create a sustainable competitive advantage – businesses today must become sustainable digital businesses. In fact, experts across industries know that in the new digital economy, only the most adaptive businesses will prevail. SAP provides what is needed to become a digital business. Our enduring vision is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. Our vision is not just relevant in this time of change and disruption – it is essential.

Complexity has become a problem of staggering proportions and stands in the way of digital transformation and innovation. It is what keeps companies from turning the trends of our time – from the explosion of data to a rapidly growing middle class – into business opportunities. Becoming a digital business means that companies must first cut through this complexity, as simplicity is a prerequisite for innovation. Companies must make their digital strategy a core part of their business strategy.


We enable organizations to tackle complexity by unlocking their ability to Run Simple. This principle guides everything we do and powers our customers’ transformation into digital businesses. We offer what is required to support this transformation – our deep experience as a leader in enterprise software for more than 40 years; our solutions and services; and our global reach, which includes a base of approximately 300,000 customers across 25 distinct industries; and an ecosystem of thousands of partners.

Our digital approach is built on two critical elements – our SAP Cloud portfolio and the SAP HANA platform. And our strategy to become THE cloud company powered by SAP HANA refers not just to our own transformation but that of our customers – and their customers.

SAP Cloud powered by SAP HANA simplifies consumption and the user experience, while SAP HANA simplifies the IT landscape. SAP HANA enables business processes and analytics to run on the same platform, something that was simply not conceivable even five years ago.

With the release of SAP S/4HANA in 2015, our next-generation business suite, we have brought a new level of performance and simplicity to core business processes. And SAP HANA Cloud Platform is facilitating the development of a much broader and richer landscape of applications to support our customers’ needs.

With these capabilities, SAP partners with companies on every aspect of their digital transformation, helping them run better and improving people’s lives. As they become digital businesses, our customers are becoming more sustainable organizations by improving how they serve their customers, engaging and developing their workforce, increasing transparency of their suppliers’ social performance, using resources more efficiently, and interacting with local communities. Our global business networks expand the world that our customers operate in, connecting them with a vast ecosystem of partners that creates more efficient, powerful, and simpler ways of managing such key functions as procurement, travel, and workforce management.

Furthermore, we connect all of these realms to core business processes, such as finance and logistics, for a seamless and simplified customer experience. And we provide deep industry expertise to help our customers design an IT strategy that best supports their business strategy. While each of these capabilities would bring value on its own, together they set us apart – we are unique in our ability to guide customers on all essential elements of their digital transformation, enabling them to reimagine their business and then realize their vision for the future.

SAP has big ambitions. We measure our success across both financial and non-financial indicators: revenue growth, profitability, customer loyalty, and employee engagement. And we are creating value for our customers by helping them to navigate a changed world so that they can find business opportunities across social, environmental, and economic dimensions.

With our broad portfolio of solutions, we are convinced that we can position our customers for greater success in the digital world. SAP can help our customers better serve their customers with the sophisticated experiences they have come to expect; reach new markets as the world’s cities expand; find new customers as millions of people join the modern economy; and innovate in the face of resource scarcity and ever changing technologies. Most of all, we can help them understand and capitalize on the ways that technology and societal trends intersect, so that – along with SAP – they cannot only become better organizations, but also help create a better world.

Creating Societal Impact by Enabling Our Customers to Innovate

As a software company that serves many of the world’s leading organizations, we have enormous opportunity to impact people and society by helping our customers innovate, run more efficiently, improve their IT security, and offer new products and services. For example, when major manufacturers gain greater transparency into their energy usage and create more efficient supply chains, they create a more positive impact on society while minimizing impact on environment. When banks offer mobile banking services to people who lack opportunities, they address inequality and promote economic growth. When healthcare companies utilize data in new and faster ways, they help patients gain access to potentially life-saving treatments.

In addition, at SAP and within our ecosystem, we support job creation and economic prosperity through demand for highly qualified workers to develop, sell, implement, and enhance our software for our customers. As our customers grow their own businesses, they also create opportunities for others through new products and services as well as economic growth.

At the heart of realizing these possibilities is our ability to help our customers cut through complexity and direct their resources to the work that matters most: new innovations that help the world run better and improve people’s lives. We work to create long-term value by addressing future needs as well as current ones, with the goal of helping to transform how people use software, conduct business, and live their lives.

To achieve our vision, SAP provides solutions and services to customers throughout the world based on our deep expertise in business processes across industries. As leader of the enterprise software market, we must continually adapt to new technology and business trends. For this reason, we rely on the people of SAP to drive our success – their intellectual and social capital provide us with key knowledge, expertise, and business relationships. Along with the financial capital of our investors, an engaged, highly skilled, and agile workforce is at the core of our business model.

Our organization must be as adaptable as our employees – and in recent years, we have made important shifts to our sales model to accommodate enormous changes in how companies use technology. In the past, our approach was focused on charging a one-time, upfront fee for a perpetual license to our software that is typically installed at the customer site. In addition, the customer usually concludes a support contract covering support, services, and software updates. As we have seen customer preferences evolve, we are increasingly delivering our solutions in the cloud through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Depending on the solution, the customer pays either usage-based or periodic fees to use our software, which is hosted in the cloud, and accesses it over the Internet. Further, we receive transaction fees from business conducted over our business networks. 

Despite these shifts, we still rely on the strengths of our direct sales organizations to drive most business development. As a global company, we set our sales go-to-market strategies at the global level, with our regional subsidiaries then adapting and executing them. Our customer-facing employees, in close collaboration with sales support and marketing, drive demand, build pipeline, and enhance relationships with customers. Our marketing efforts cover large enterprises as well as small and midsize enterprises, with our broad portfolio of solutions and services addressing the needs of customers of all sizes across industries. Additional e-commerce and digitally native offerings further enable a low-touch or no-touch customer journey.

Our business model aligns with and supports our business strategy and puts us in a strong position to drive future growth. By helping organizations transform into digital businesses, we see enormous potential to increase our share of their overall IT spend while providing them with greater value. As our technology unlocks simplicity for our customers, they, in turn, bring new advances to their customers in areas that directly impact people’s lives.

Our Goals for Sustained Business Success

We have strong ambitions for sustainable business success, both for our company and for our customers. We believe the most important indicators to measure this success comprise both financial and non-financial indicators: growth, profitability, customer loyalty, and employee engagement.

Growth: SAP uses various revenue metrics to measure growth. We expect full-year 2016 non-IFRS cloud subscriptions and support revenue to be in a range of €2.95 billion to €3.05 billion at constant currencies (2015: €2.30 billion). Further, we expect full-year 2016 non-IFRS cloud and software revenue to increase by 6% to 8% at constant currencies (2015: €17.23 billion). Looking beyond 2016, we have raised our 2017 ambition to reflect the current currency exchange rate environment and excellent business momentum. Assuming a stable exchange rate environment going forward, SAP now expects non-IFRS cloud subscriptions and support revenue in a range of €3.8 billion to €4.0 billion in 2017. By 2017, SAP continues to expect its rapidly growing cloud subscriptions and support revenue to be close to software license revenue and is expected to exceed software license revenue in 2018. Non-IFRS total revenue is expected to reach €23.0 billion to €23.5 billion in 2017. Our high-level 2020 ambitions remain unchanged, with 2020 non-IFRS cloud subscriptions and support revenue expected to reach €7.5 billion to €8.0 billion and total revenue is expected to be in a range of €26 billion to €28 billion.

Profitability: SAP expects full-year 2016 non-IFRS operating profit to be in a range of €6.4 billion to €6.7 billion at constant currencies (2015: €6.35 billion). We expect non-IFRS operating profit to be in a range of €6.7 billion to €7.0 billion in 2017 and to be in a range of €8.0 billion to €9.0 billion in 2020.

Customer loyalty: SAP uses the Customer Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a key performance indicator (KPI) to measure customer loyalty. We aim to achieve a Customer NPS score of 25% in 2016 (2015: 22.4%). Due to changes in sampling, resulting from ongoing efforts to implement the survey process holistically in recently acquired entities, the 2015 score is not fully comparable with the prior year score.

Employee engagement: We use the employee engagement index to measure motivation and loyalty of our employees, how proud they are of our company, and how strongly they identify with SAP. We remain committed to achieving 82% employee engagement score in 2016 (2015: 81%).

These four corporate objectives affirm our commitment to innovation and sustainability, and help us deliver on our vision.

In addition to primary KPIs, which directly measure our performance on our four goals, we manage a number of secondary performance indicators, which influence the primary KPIs in a variety of ways. You can read about some of these relationships, such as the link between our employee engagement and profitability, in the SAP Integrated Report online.

Our main objectives are presented with more detail throughout the report. For more information on our strategic goals, see the Performance Management System section; Expected Developments and Opportunities section; Customers section; and Employees and Social Investment section.

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