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5/10/2010
09:50 PM
Bob Evans
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Even Larry Ellison Can't Top This: 'The SAP Recession'

At a recent meeting of CEOs from the manufacturing industry, Timken Co. CEO Jim Griffith said, "I call this the SAP recession" (and Timken's an SAP customer!). But despite how it bad that sounds, Griffith intended it as a compliment. (I think).

At a recent meeting of CEOs from the manufacturing industry, Timken Co. CEO Jim Griffith said, "I call this the SAP recession" (and Timken's an SAP customer!). But despite how it bad that sounds, Griffith intended it as a compliment. (I think).Reuters posted an article featuring pithy comments from CEOs who participated at its Manufacturing and Transportation Summit Monday in Chicago, and this one from Timken CEO Griffith seems to damn SAP with misguided praise:

"I call this the SAP recession," Griffith is quoted as saying, "because companies have a much better control over their inventories and so our customers did a much better job of reducing inventories immediately when they saw the demand go. And the further back you were on the supply chain, the more that hit you."

So while no recessions are good, maybe Griffith was trying to say that "SAP recessions" are less bad because of the widespread supply-chain discipline instilled by SAP and its products, giving companies "much better control over their inventories" and allowing them to slash inventories "immediately when they saw the demand go."

Or is Griffith saying that the "SAP recession" created havoc for those companies "further back . . . on the supply chain" that got caught at the terribly wrong end of the pipe when the excess inventories got flushed through the system?

I'm not sure about that one, but I will bet heavily that someone at SAP drops Griffith a note asking him next time to pick another IT company after which to name a recession. And maybe Nike will make the same request to the Timken CEO as well because, very shortly after he linked SAP with the recession, Griffith managed to schmear some of the very same tar on Nike with an equally bizarre punchline to an otherwise rational comment:

"We believe the recovery is real," said Griffith. "We believe it's modest and we are running the company on the basis that there will be a slow, gradual improvement in the economy. The economists debate, 'Is this going to be a V? Is it going to be a U? Is it going to be a W?' The best depiction I have heard ... is that this recovery is going to look like the Nike swoosh."

Larry Ellison spares no opportunity to take verbal shots at rival SAP, but not even he has come up with a singularly unflattering term to match "the SAP recession." But now that an SAP customer has said it, who knows?

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