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Analysis: SAP's CEO double act comes of age

It is fairly typical to use 100 days as an opportunity to gauge the impact a leader has made to a top position. They did it with Barak Obama and you can guarantee they will do it with David Cameron.

But it is not just politicians who warrant the 100-day treatment: the SAP co-CEOs have also reached that point, just as the vendor holds its annual Sapphire event for resellers and partners.

In some respects unless we work for SAP it is always going to be difficult to know what Bill McDermott and his co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe have done internally to improve the culture and the mood at the vendor, but that was one of the tasks they were set 100 days ago.

McDermott (pictured) used his keynote speech at Sapphire to talk about "galvanising" staff, partners and customers, so the need to do something on that front has b BillMcDermott.jpgeen recognised.

Even before Bill and Jim were unveiled the supervisory board at SAP had talked about the need to rebuild trust and repair some of the internal problems that had emerged under the last CEO. But even with that said the last 100 days will have included a fair amount of bridge-rebuilding.

In other ways SAP's CEO team has benefited from the improvement in the global economy and the move back towards optimism and renewed customer spending. One of the things SAP resellers will have wanted to hear a great deal about is prospects for BusinessByDesign. The  need to move towards more flexible business intelligence tools has been a customer demand for a while and SAP has taken quite a long time to answer that need.

But with a widespread launch coming this summer the CEOs have been able to conclude their first 100 days with a flourish, talking about this being the moment when the world changes and the convergence between mobility, data and applications snowballs.

"From our exhaustive conversations with customers to our revitalized development approach and product strategy, we are aligning ourselves to enable companies to take advantage of this defining moment, this convergence of market forces, to emerge better than they were before," said McDermott.

Hagemann Snabe talked about the vendor's commitment to continue investing in its on-premise software in his keynote speech from Frankfurt, but added that it intended taking market leadership in the on-demand segment.

He said it would make itself stand out in the crowd by making sure its products "integrate with the on-premise world in a seamless way, so that a lead doesn't continue to be a lead; it becomes an order, a delivery, an invoice and a payment - most of which happens in the on-premise world."
 
That sounds like a natural way to approach it, but getting beyond the on-premise product portfolio has not been SAP's forte in the past few years, so it should be interesting to watch developments over the next couple of months.


This was first published in May 2010

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