Time for Growth but World Has Changed: SAP

Companies are emerging from the crisis leaner and more competitive, and now it is time for them to grow, but the environment has changed radically, Bill McDermott, co-CEO of SAP, told CNBC in an interview Thursday.

SAP's profit rose 15 percent in the second-quarter, due to growth in the US and in emerging markets, to 491 million euros ($636 million), the company reported Tuesday.

"So far what we see is that things are turning around. And most execs have to focus on growth again," McDermott told CNBC.

"They have done a lot of the cost cutting. They have done a lot of the efficiency moves and now it's time to compete and grow in the global economy," he added.

But he added that "the world has definitely changed."

"Managing risk is now at the forefront of people's thinking, because they understand that the downsides can be exponentially bigger than the upside of making short-cut decisions and going for short-term gains," McDermott said.

SAP, which makes software that helps companies manage back-office work such as accounting and payroll, has a management made of two co-CEOs, McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe.

"Now as it relates to the crisis, when you come from the US you are absolutely not in fear of any of this, because you feel like you have seen it before and gotten a few t-shirts," McDermott said.

"And the one thing about Americans, we have this sense of optimism that if we just stay the course, come up with a new plan, think creatively, we can dig ourselves out of any jam," he added.

The SAP board is very diverse and "there is a lot of power in that," Hagemann Snabe told CNBC, adding that more companies should go the same path to take advantage of the best of the diversity.

"First of all there is no problem that is too big for any American to solve – 'yes we can!,'" Hagemann Snabe said.

"And there is the other part of that optimism: 'I can and I will!' That is something we can learn a little bit in Europe from and combine that with the cultural aspects and diversity," he added.

- Reporting by Patricia Szarvas in Frankfurt