SAP Plunging Into Machine Learning: CEO Bill McDermott

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Business software maker SAP SE is placing bets on machine learning and exploring emerging technologies such as blockchain, Chief Executive Bill McDermott said in a wide-ranging interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt.

“We want to become the world-wide machine learning leader for corporate businesses, hands down,” said Mr. McDermott, who in recent years has shifted the company’s focus away from its on-premise software to cloud-based products and services. “Our goal is to have the most intelligent business applications and we’re doing everything we can to achieve that.”

He didn’t say how much money SAP has invested in machine learning. Data experts and developers are building applications with those capabilities, according to Mr. McDermott. Approximately 100 engineers are working on machine learning “and it’s constantly increasing,” he said.

Machine learning could be used to develop new applications for SuccessFactors, SAP’s cloud-based suite of human resources tools. One example: algorithms that could help limit prejudice or gender discrimination in hiring decisions. “Machines and computers don’t have a bias — they just have an algorithm that matches the profile of a job to the applicant,” Mr. McDermott said.

He also touted blockchain technology’s ability to make transactions more transparent and improve trust. “We will play an important role in eliminating the middleman and facilitating better business transactions,” he said, adding that entire companies will disappear because of blockchain.

SAP last month raised its earnings guidance for 2016, even after reporting a 19% decline in net profit for the third quarter. It now expects full-year operating profit to be in a range of €6.5 billion to €6.7 billion ($7.1 billion to $7.3 billion), compared with €6.35 billion in 2015, the Journal reported.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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