It is rumor that right around the turn of the millennium, SAP had failed to recognize the potential of the Internet. The worldwide leading R/3 was a black box. NetWeaver and friends weren’t even born yet, and SAP programmers didn’t care for external software very much. It almost seemed like the innovational spirit of the five founders had been lost a long time ago. This false assessment of the situation was only made by people who did not know Hasso Plattner very well, though.
Maybe there was a pause in SAP’s innovation cycle, but Hasso Plattner was always one to look beyond ERP and his own company and think many years into the future. August-Wilhelm Sheer is credited with saying that he knows no other soul alive as visionary as Plattner. And SAP has found its motivation again.
New motivation through staff turnover
This spike in motivation began with Shai Agassi, who was recruited by Hasso Plattner out of California. After Agassi, there was Vishal Sikka, who was also recruited by Plattner in California, where he got his PhD in mathematics at Stanford University. After Sikka, there was Bernd Leukert, who is responsible for the framework Leonardo – SAP’s answer to the Internet of Things. Now, there is a new CTO in town: Juergen Mueller, who is an alumnus of the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany.
SAP’s CTO position is characterized by innovative staff turnover, with one spectacular idea following the other. For SAP customers, this is not only exciting, but also challenging.
Of course, every ERP user is grateful for upgrades and improvements. But they also have to think about their operations. An innovative and genius ERP change can bring with it tests and evaluations lasting days and the training of thousands of employees. Wish and reality collide in the SAP community, and it is not a pretty sight.
SAP wants many things. This is mostly advantageous for SAP customers. But sometimes, SAP wants too much and confuses its community. To find the perfect balance between innovation and reliability is almost impossible. SAP customers are rushed through roadmaps. Whoever wants everything and everything at once could end up with nothing.
SAP has to stop just pushing forward. It has to reconcile innovation and reality – otherwise, it might end up with nothing at all.