Hasso Plattner

At a celebration marking SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner's 60th birthday in 2004, then German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had just one complaint: "To get Germany moving economically, we need a lot of Hasso Plattners and a lot of SAPs."

At a time when computer networks were just beginning to become business staples, Plattner's vision was to create a program that would become the foundation upon which companies would be able to link departments and automate basic processes such as accounting, inventory maintenance and work-flow management — before Microsoft and Windows had become household names. Plattner's bosses at...

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