"Fifty percent of Gen Y say they would rather lose their sense of smell than their mobile device," McDermott said during the keynote.
It's also a response to competitors such as Workday and NetSuite, which recently introduced user-interface upgrades at no additional cost to customers.
McDermott is the first American to be sole CEO of SAP, and appears bent on making his mark on a company that despite its success has long endured criticism for the complexity of its software.
"We see a dream for a simpler SAP, and a simpler customer experience," McDermott said during the keynote. "I realize there are those of you, especially the pundits, that say we can't. Those that are eager to point out to me that SAP has been too complex. That's a fair point. No doubt about it. That's why there's a chip on our shoulders. We will beat complexity. SAP is simple from now on."
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