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Q&A: SAP CIO, Oliver Bussmann

Q&A: SAP CIO, Oliver Bussmann

Bussmann talks about meeting BYOD expectations, keeping the role of the CIO relevant and why he likes the Galaxy Note

SAP global chief information officer, Oliver Bussmann.

SAP global chief information officer, Oliver Bussmann.

SAP global chief information officer, Oliver Bussmann, is kept busy juggling two roles — CIO and executive vice-president — at the German software company’s headquarters in Walldorf, Germany.

Bussman took time out from his busy schedule while in Sydney and sat down with CIO Australia to talk about meeting BYOD expectations, keeping the role of the CIO relevant and why he likes the Galaxy Note.

What does an average work day involve for you at SAP?

Since the acquisition of SuccessFactors in 2011 and Sybase in 2010, there is a lot of work to do integrating the companies into SAP. Thirty per cent of my time is devoted to customers and other CIOs that I meet in person or over the phone. At least 10 per cent involves talking to the press via social media about what we are doing.

Working with the business to understand what is going on takes up another 30 per cent while I devote 20 per cent to direct employee communication such as meetings.

Because we drive an internal innovation program, we have built up a lot of knowledge in the Cloud and mobility area in Big Data. The demand for this kind of information is huge so that 30 per cent customer engagement is something that has increased in the last two years.

What are some of the challenges you face in the role of CIO?

If you are a high tech CIO, there is a huge expectation that you are a front runner. So, I need to understand the trends that are coming such as consumerisation of IT which employees will ask for. The challenge is to be on top of what is happening in the marketplace but also understand the expectations from a corporate perspective. Meeting the gap between consumer [devices], employees and corporate is becoming an important part of my business.

What are some of the major projects you have been working on?

The major project we are working on is expanding our mobile footprint. We want to install more productivity and workflow apps on mobile devices.

The second area we working on is transforming our environment to a real-time architecture. With the new innovations in memory where you can process a huge amount of data in real time, the whole architecture in the enterprise business is in the middle of a big change. That requires us to constantly look at opportunities to optimise our setup.

What are the three biggest issues facing CIOs today?

The number one issue is to make sure the role of the CIO is not getting diminished. My advice here is that we are playing three roles.

One is the function role and making sure our operational excellence, infrastructure and budget management is in place.

The second role is CIOs have to sit at the table of business transformation so, for example, if the company wants to meet higher revenues than IT has to be there.

The third role is that of a strategic CIO and finding a way to leverage IT innovation to have a direct impact on products and services.

What is your favourite gadget?

Right now, it’s the Samsung Galaxy Note. It’s easy to read documents on and you can still use it as a phone.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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