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Inside View: SAP Analytics

MBA job opportunities abundant at cloud computing powerhouse

By  Seb Murray

Thu Feb 18 2016

SAP and MBA may be a match made in heaven. Big data gets business students’ juices flowing like few other topics and the German software giant is a leader in analytics technologies.

SAP makes enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations for its 300,000 customers. Its analytics unit offers a suite of tools to help businesses harness the power of their data.

MBA job opportunities at the group’s sprawling global operations, in 130 countries outside of its Walldorf HQ in Europe, North America, Asia Pac and Africa, are abundant.

That’s according to Michael Jordan, global portfolio manager for analytics software at SAP, whose CEO Bill McDermott has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.

Michael has an MBA from London’s Kingston University and lectures at University of Exeter Business School on analytics and sustainability.

SAP recruits at Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Kelley School of Business, Mendoza College of Business, IMD, and IE. Arne Strauss, who teaches the MSc Business Analytics at Warwick Business School, says SAP is keen to take on business graduates who can crunch data.

This is spurred by the growth of its analytics practice and booming cloud business: cloud revenues rose 130% in the first half of 2015. SAP has spent big on big data, acquiring $18 billion worth of cloud-related companies since 2011.

How would you describe your role at SAP?

I’m global portfolio manager for all the analytics software within the context of training. My job is to keep an eye on the software development pipe[line] and make sure that we have training on this for customers, integral consultants, partners — everybody.

My background and expertise is around the analytics area. I’m an education guy as well. I’ve always been a teacher.

Are there job opportunities for MBAs at SAP?

Yes. There are always different opportunities. Analytics is definitely growing at SAP. It’s quite a big topic.

It’s always growing. There are always global opportunities. Most will exist in London and other big locations. 

Do MBAs today need to have analytics training?

Yes. These days, it should be like cleaning your teeth — it should be normal. I feel that it’s becoming a core skill for business people to have.

The way analytics tools are maturing now is that companies like IBM and SAP are pushing them on to business users. The expectation is that senior business people have the skills to leverage analytics technologies. The whole message is let’s move it further away from the “IT crowd” and more into the core business.

What analytics training do you offer MBAs at Exeter?

A few years ago we started with an introductory course called data analytics and sustainability or something along those lines. Then we ran a four day course. It was quite popular. Now this year it’s become a core course within the One Planet MBA. I’m also delivering a new elective which really gets into the various analytics techniques that we can use. But we’re not teaching them [students] to be data scientists.

We take all the students together to our [SAP’s] head office in the UK and they get presentations on analytics tools and technologies.

[But] you have to be very careful; you can’t treat analytics software as a cookie cutter approach, where you apply some magic technique, get a conclusion, and beat you’re audience over the head. You need to come in with some humility — even with the right numbers you could still interpret it [the data] totally wrongly. Analytics is important, but you don’t lose the role of intuition.

How can analytics be applied to sustainability?

[At Exeter] we take some of these very valuable business tools and analytics techniques and apply them to other problems related to sustainability. [The] seniority of women in IT organizations for example. They seem to be stuck at around 29-32% women.

Why should business students consider people and planet and not just profit?

I definitely think it’s important to have an understanding of it in general. In the past you could get a business school education, go on to be very successful, make a load of money, and be an absolute disaster for the environment and society.

A rounded business education means you recognize business is a member of the society you operate in, and has a responsibility for it.