Blog Editor-in-Chief

Business ByDesign’s Second Death

Business ByDesign has fallen victim to SAP’s spring cleaning. SAP seems to no longer hold any regard for the once revolutionary software. All's well that ends well it seems, and Professor Plattner's wish has finally been granted.

Ingeniously off the mark

The idea for a holistic standard business software as a SaaS offering directly from the SAP data center came from Professor Hasso Plattner, one of the original founders, and his then SAP Chief Technology Officer, Peter Zencke. He was the last visionary board member who somehow had both feet on the ground and his head up in the clouds at the same time. Back then, it was possible to call Peter Zencke at any time and ask him for advice; he often unpretentiously took the calls himself. Nowadays, it is common for board members to be surrounded by an impenetrable wall of assistants, who in turn have their own wall of secretaries. Peter Zencke was different. He was a realist and a visionary simultaneously. This combination created Business ByDesign, or BuByDe. But SAP never really got the software conglomerate to take off.

No operational knowledge

History repeats itself: with BuByDe, SAP already proved it had no understanding of data center management. The performance of BuByDe from the Walldorf data center in Germany was—to put it bluntly—lousy, and data protection and demarcation between BuByDe users was poor. The idea was good in theory, but not in practice. A lot of improvements had to be made and at times sales were even discontinued.

BuByDe is dead

Hasso Plattner blamed the disaster on his Chief Technology Officer, Peter Zencke, who left the company shortly afterwards without hearing a word of thanks from the SAP co-founder. Naturally, Zencke was not solely responsible for the BuByDe disaster. In retrospect, it can be said that there was a lack of understanding of SaaS itself and of how to best operate a SaaS solution. Peter Zencke bears little blame here, as can be seen many years later with SuccessFactors. Here, too, there was a well thought-out and coherent solution that almost came up against a brick wall because SAP’s SaaS or cloud know-how was lacking. Back then, Hasso Plattner was already close to discontinuing BuByDe. Now, in 2023, he is finally getting his way.

SAP is not a cloud company

It takes a good deal of expertise to develop successful ERP solutions like R/3, BuByDe, Business Suite 7, and S/4. SAP has this business expertise. However, it also requires a good deal of expertise to be a successful outsourcer, hosting provider, SaaS, and cloud provider. This expertise, SAP lacks. So BuByDe must now suffer through a second death. SAP was never able to help Peter Zencke’s BuByDe achieve the success it deserved—a pity, as with a little more humility towards cloud computing, it could have been a success.

Any questions, comments, or concerns? Please feel free to let us know in a comment down below.

About the author

Peter M. Färbinger, Editor-in-Chief

Peter M. Färbinger is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at E-3 Magazine, AG, Munich, Germany. He can be reached at

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Sign up for e3zine´s biweekly newsbites

Please do not use administrative mail adresses like "noreply@..", "admin@.." or similar as these may get blocked for security reasons.

We use rapidmail for dispatching our newsletter. By signing up, you agree that the data you have entered will be transmitted to rapidmail. Please take note of their terms and conditions and privacy policy.termsandconditions.

Our Authors