Israeli exec of software giant SAP shares vision

Franck Cohen says European companies must make adjustments to comepete with Asian rivals.

July 20, 2012 00:02
2 minute read.
shekel and dollar exchange

shekel versus dollar 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

European companies must reinvent themselves if they are to compete with their Asian rivals, Franck Cohen, president of German multinational software firm SAP’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division, told reporters in Tel Aviv Thursday.

“They will not be able to outspend companies in the Asia-Pacific, so they have to outsmart them,” he said.

SAP aims to achieve this by focusing on three major technologies that are all approaching maturity at the same time: mobile, in-memory computing and cloud computing, Cohen said.

Mobile is becoming more business-oriented, and SAP is starting to think about developing mobile business applications that could be deployed on a mass scale through all kinds of tablets and devices, he said.

In-memory computing technology, which the company is developing through its HANA solution, would revolutionize the way people manage big data, Cohen said.

“If you combine these three dimensions and look at what these three new technologies can bring when they are put together, you can change the IT landscape forever,” he said. “And that presents unprecedented opportunities to companies like SAP – and also to our customers – to reinvent themselves.”

Unusual for a European business executive, Cohen spoke to reporters in both Hebrew and English. Born in Algeria, he moved with his parents to Sderot in 1960 and finished his schooling in France but returned alone to Israel at age 17. He served in the IDF Paratroopers Brigade and studied electronics and electrical engineering at Tel Aviv University. He joined SAP in 2009, armed with 22 years of experience in the enterprise resource planning industry.

SAP’s Israel division is functioning very well, and was even voted best performer out of all the company’s European branches this year, Cohen said. SAP Labs Israel has been behind a number of inventions, he said, and more than 100 local developers are participating in the development of the HANA in-memory solution.

Israeli developers were responsible for the creation of the Real Time Offer Management solution, which combines with mobile and in-memory computing technology to personalize promotional offerings. The system is being tested by French supermarket chain Casino.

The system recognizes, via loyal customers’ mobile devices, when they have entered the store, Cohen said. It immediately recognizes purchasing behavior by examining the customer’s past purchases and social-media profile.

Based on this information, it makes a personalized promotion to that customer. For example, if the customer is a chocaholic, the system might offer them an exclusive 10 percent discount on chocolates.

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