Do platforms matter? And if they do, why?

The JD-OD team sat down with Aiaz Kazi, SVP for Platform Strategy at SAP, at Sapphire NOW 2013 to get Aiaz’s take on how platforms change the game for both partners and customers in terms of building apps.

Aiaz says platforms absolutely matter. Looking at any successful company in practically any space proves the point. Whether it’s consumer products,  enterprise software or hardware, if you don’t provide a platform that others can build on, you won’t have a long-term sustainable company

A classic case? The return of Apple in rolling out the iPod and the iTunes marketplace – bold moves that transformed a hardware company into a platform company. Aiaz goes on to say that, for him, a platform has two key components. One is the technology that people build on. The second piece involves monetizing the applications that are being built.

When it comes to how people perceive SAP’s platform, Jon points out there are some varied opinions, as well as a degree of confusion. What does SAP plan to do about this? Aiaz says that with HANA having matured rapidly since it was introduced, HANA now provides both the application development and the data management capability at the foundation. This eliminates the forced choices of the past. The essential message needs to be further spread — HANA is both a database and a platform.

Aiaz emphasizes that the true way to look at HANA is as a platform, the core foundation of all the applications that SAP will be delivering on top. Nowhere is that seen more clearly than in the energy of the startups that are using HANA. The way Aiaz sees it, a platform isn’t a platform until you have many thriving applications on it. Aiaz needs 5 million applications on his platform. Doing that means fueling the imagination of the startups.

But as Aiaz sees it, you don’t do it by pushing the platform in a conventional marketing sense. You do it by enabling the ecosystem, which means re-thinking and re-inventing it, as well. Startups are bringing an entirely new base to SAP — with 60% to 70% of them, perhaps more, building for net-new SAP scenarios.

Show Notes

:52 Successful companies provide a platform others can build on

1:56 Platforms give customers a chance to rethink processes

2:30 Platform’s two key components: buildable tech and potential for monetization

3:16 Varied opinions exist on  SAP’s platform strategy

4:40 Why HANA, which is a database and a platform, eliminates forced choices of the past

5:42 Generating 5 million apps on HANA depends on fueling the imagination of startups

7:50 SAP’s intent is not to sell the platform, but to enable the ecosystem

Disclosure: SAP paid most of Jon’s travel and expenses to Sapphire Now 2013.