When the stunning news came in Thursday night that Hewlett-Packard had picked long-time software executive and former SAP CEO Leo Apotheker to lead the $130 billion IT company, I was eager to get the reaction from one of the co-CEOs who replaced Apotheker 8 months ago after he resigned from SAP. Here's what SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott had to say."This is great news for HP and for SAP," said McDermott in an email statement from the company.
"SAP and HP are outstanding partners, HP is a great SAP customer, and this move only sets the stage for an even deeper relationship between our two companies. Leo understands our business model and how to fully advantage this partnership to help our joint customers be best-run businesses."
That's a classic McDermott perspective in placing the primary focus on the customer aspect of any situation: HP's "a great SAP customer" and Apotheker will enhance the ability of the two companies "to help our joint customers be best-run businesses."
The deep irony surrounding McDermott's customer-centric comment is that one of the reasons Apotheker was ousted by SAP chairman Hasso Plattner early this year was Plattner's contention that SAP had lost the trust of its customers and that Apotheker had lost touch with the primary concerns of his customers.
And in the 8 months since McDermott and co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe have been in place at SAP, they have taken a number of steps to drastically change that dynamic and remake SAP in the image of its customers.
So it will be intriguing to watch Apotheker's early moves at HP to see how his approach to running a global IT powerhouse has-or has not-changed since his time at SAP.
In the meantime, though, one person who's wishing Apotheker only the best is Bill McDermott, the man who used to report to Apotheker, then replaced him, and now is a strategic partner with him: "I personally congratulate Leo on this tremendous appointment."