Q&A: Michael Kleinemeier

© Eric James Walsh

Q&A: Michael Kleinemeier, SAP Executive Board Member, Digital Business Services


What is your personal story about “Wunderbar Together – Germany and the U.S.”? 

“Wunderbar Together” celebrates the strong bond that was forged between the United States and Germany over centuries. It is based on cultural and business ties. But above all, the bond was created through numerous friendships between Americans and Germans – a bond that is visible at SAP every day. Our CEO Bill McDermott – an American – splits his time between the U.S. and Germany, and even owns a home in Heidelberg. Personally, I have daily conversations with customers, partners, and colleagues in the United States. Overall, SAP’s global success shows what you can achieve by creating strong cultural ties. While founded in Germany, SAP has deep roots in the United States. We opened our first office in the United States at the end of the 1980s to better serve our U.S. customers. Since then, the United States has become one of our largest markets worldwide. Today SAP North America serves 190,000 customers in 25 industries.

What inspires you most about “Wunderbar Together”?

The “Wunderbar Together” campaign hosts a series of inspirational business and cultural events across the United States. It is an opportunity to exchange ideas across the transatlantic. More importantly, it holds the possibility to explore future collaboration to drive innovation in business and society, fueled by a diversity of viewpoints and perspectives. I am especially excited about the events that discuss how we can shape the future of our digital society, including discussions about the next phase of Industry 4.0, preparing for the digital future of work, and how technology innovation can help meet global sustainable development goals. The exchange and collaboration will deepen our friendship for future generations.

How will the future of work look like at SAP?

The future of work will be more digital, fast changing, and entrepreneurial. Looking at the speed of technology innovation, the future of work will also materialize faster than expected. We will see more technological changes in the next three to five years than we have seen in the past 20 to 30 years. We already started to prepare and transform SAP for the workplace of tomorrow. The transformation is guided by the question, “What is the skill set of tomorrow?” Lifelong learning is the number-one critical success factor for companies in the future. It will also be the number-one critical success factor for talent. You must be able to reinvent yourself constantly, as a company and as an employee. The future of work will be exciting and full of opportunities for entrepreneurial thinking and professional growth.

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