SAP-A Globally Enterprising Company: European Lessons from the Enterprise Software Industry
Software has become one of the central drivers of growth in an expanding global economy. Despite concerted "catch-up" efforts by European and Asian firms and governments alike, few major software players are not American. In particular, European software producers were slow to adapt to the new challenges posed by U.S. firms with standardized software products tied to rapidly innovating computer hardware systems and the Internet. One exception is Germany's SAP, which has quietly managed to become one of the largest software companies in the world. This article examines the market and nonmarket factors that have led to this company's success in both the global and Asian context. First, it will examine how SAP was able to bring the first fully integrated package to corporations around the world and thus to establish a global presence in one of the largest software niche markets, enterprise resource planning software. Second, this study highlights the importance of taking the nonmarket environment into account in Asia. Finally, the article demonstrates how SAP's strategy in Asia was a part of its global plan to simultaneously maximize market share and improve efficiency.
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