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Global CIO: SAP's Top 10 Priorities To Become Undisputed #1

Welcome to SAP Week, our in-depth look at the company's strategy, products, and customers. Today: 10 steps SAP must take to reclaim its global leadership.

Bob Evans

May 16, 2010

4 Min Read

Acknowledge And Obliterate It. We can't escape our pasts but we can prove that they have no role in our futures. Until recently, SAP was clinging desperately to many of the large-scale approaches it had been using since its founding 35 years ago: its software-development processes, its attitude toward acquisitions, its attitude toward on-demand platforms, and its tight-lipped and often-awkward approaches to communication. Just as SAP evaluates its customers based on number of enterprise apps per billion dollars in revenue, so too should SAP show the world how rapidly its changing by highlighting how its leaner development processes are accelerating innovation and product development, how the on-premise model can be enhanced by blending in some on-demand and on-device approaches, and how feedback from customers of all sizes are being incorporated into new products and approaches. The company's promise to revolutionize the flow of enterprise knowledge and insight by uniting the formerly separate realms of business applications business intelligence via its new in-memory technology is one high-potential opportunity. And one specific idea I'd love to see SAP adopt: bullish and confident discussions of its Business ByDesign achievements and customer uptake, to ensure that the entire market understands SAP's not just dabbling in the cloud/SaaS field but is deeply committed to it.

9) Enhance Key Relationships With IBM And Microsoft. If it's true that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, then SAP ought to be cuddling close with IBM and Microsoft, whose disdain (loathing?) for Oracle is beginning to approach the level of SAP's. I would think a 3-way "Enterprise Cloud Alliance" involving SAP, Microsoft, and IBM could advance the interests of each of those companies while accelerating the time to value for customers. For example, joint developments of methods for optimizing the integration of Microsoft's new Azure fleet with SAP's key applications running on IBM's new Power systems.

10) Keeping The Drama Out Of The Three-Headed Leadership. Before taking a leading role in February's media/analyst call to lay out the CEO changes and disclose the company's problems, Plattner had not spoken to those audiences in 7 years—but he promised he'd be back in a deeply engaged and involved role. Since then, he's kept a relatively low public profile and that's probably because new co-CEOs Snabe and McDermott appear to be doing such a strong job of rallying the company, reassuring customers, and reestablishing the company's profile and authority in the marketplace. Plattner's willingness to re-engage with the company he founded 35 years ago was probably a great confidence-builder for many SAP employees and customers, and since then Snabe and McDermott's public comments have been pitch-perfect. Yes, three months is not nearly enough of a track record for the co-CEOs but last quarter's numbers were very solid and the company issued confident guidance for the remainder of the year. So far, the three high-profile execs seem to be settling peacefully and collaboratively into their roles and that is incredibly important to the company's future prospects because Lord knows SAP has enough external folks gunning for them that they don't need to consume valuable time and energy dealing with internal theatrics. McDermott in particular has been very effective in balancing public comments about Oracle—confidently contrasting the two companies' strategies and approaches with brief remarks, and then leaning aggressively away from Oracle and back into discussions of why SAP's technology and customer focus will emerge triumphant.

As Sapphire kicks off, SAP's expected to make a series of announcements relating to product roadmaps, alliances, and strategies so there's sure to be a lot for us to share with you during SAP Week. One thing we'll be watching closely is whether SAP chooses to continue presenting itself to the world as more interested in adapting to the customer demands of the future than in hewing closely to the SAP traditions of the past. Those actions will tell us all a great deal about SAP's intentions toward aiming to become the world's leading enterprise software company.


SAP's McDermott Slaps Back At Oracle And Refocuses On Customers

Global CIO: An Open Letter To SAP Chairman Hasso Plattner

Global CIO: Inside SAP: 10 Factors Behind Its Dramatic Turnaround

Global CIO: 10 Things SAP's Co-CEOs Should Focus On

Global CIO: Oracle President Phillips Says 22% Annual Fees Great For CIOs

Global CIO: Larry Ellison's Nightmare: 10 Ways SAP Can Beat Oracle

Global CIO: Oracle's Larry Ellison Declares War On IBM And SAP

Global CIO: IBM Sees Surge In Customers' Transformation Projects

Global CIO: Larry Ellison's New Acquisition Underscores Vertical Strategy

Global CIO: Oracle's Phillips Says Standardizing On Oracle Is IT Cure

GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Bob Evans


Bob Evans is senior VP, communications, for Oracle Corp. He is a former InformationWeek editor.

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