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SAP chief executive talks about what the company can do for consumers, small businesses

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SAP has been synonymous with enterprise software for many years, but the company has taken some recent steps to broaden its target audience.

A new ad campaign highlights how SAP can help smaller businesses and entrepreneurs. The company also has launched its first consumer app, Recalls Plus, which is being marketed as a tool for parents.

In a conversation with The Washington Post, SAP co-chief executive Bill McDermott talked about big data, apps and what SAP can do for the average consumer.

Developments in big data are driving SAP, McDermott said. HANA, the company’s platform for making sense of large quantities of information, has made it possible to apply data to help the consumer experience.

For example, McDermott said, say a parent takes their child to a ball game on his birthday. The parent could enter that information into a profile and receive a coupon on their smartphone for a discount on the jersey of the birthday kid’s favorite player. Or their phone could be used to access stats for players in real-time, letting users know how likely it is that a player at the plate will score. There are other applications as well, he said, giving the example of a store where customers can ask the company to keep track of items they’ve tried on or bought, to help them with later shopping decisions.

“We can use the data to make it feel like you’re the only person in the room, to improve the consumer experience,” McDermott said.

The same philosophy applies to Recalls Plus, which helps parents sift through the flood of information released from various companies and agencies about product recalls. The app lets users track brands they use, add information on food allergens and even helps them set up a customizable “Watch List” based on their child’s age.

The app is just one of a series of efforts “in the pipeline,” McDermott said.

The company isn’t leaving enterprise behind. Small businesses and entrepreneurs, McDermott said, can particularly benefit from the shift to cloud storage and mobile data, and being able to process data faster benefits most companies. SAP is focusing on offering services that get companies moving from the cloud and providing them with quick insights, he said.

Many companies, McDermott said, don’t realize what they can do with big data — that, he said, is where SAP can make the most impact.

“There’s a shift I see in the world,” he said. “Businesses that do business with other businesses will be the inception point” for using data to run companies faster and smarter.

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