The question bears repeating: Can SAP do cloud? SAP’s earnings seem to suggest so. However, success in the cloud market is not all there is to being a cloud company. What is the differentiating factor of SAP’s cloud solutions?
The most convincing cloud figures always came from CFO Luka Mucic. Cloud revenue climbed steadily, and some figures in SAP’s financial reports surprised even analysts. CTO Juergen Mueller and Head of SAP Product Engineering Thomas Saueressig, though, have stayed almost silent on the topic of cloud applications and cloud technology. This seems to suggest that SAP does not possess any cloud competency in the technological sense.
It is safe to say that Luka Mucic has not only acted as SAP’s Chief Financial Officer, but also as its Cloud Financial Officer. He’s to thank for a large portion of SAP’s revenue now residing in the cloud – something even supervisory board member Hasso Plattner acknowledges, “During his tenure as CFO, SAP’s cloud revenue has risen from €1 billion to more than €9 billion. Luka and his leadership team have been a cornerstone of SAP’s successful cloud transformation.”
That is not to say that raising the cloud revenue has been his only achievement. In his 26 years at the company, he has navigated the financial crisis of 2008, supported SAP’s reorganization, and managed the numerous acquisitions under former CEO Bill McDermott. Furthermore, he has been instrumental in Qualtrics’ successful flotation and Sapphire Venture’s continued growth.
Even though SAP has already begun its search for a successor, I pity CEO Christian Klein. He will lose an experienced CEO and fierce advocate of SAP’s cloud business. He himself comments on Mucic’s departure, “Luka has been a wonderful mentor throughout my career at SAP. His intellectual generosity, deep commitment to principle-based leadership and dedication to SAP and our customers have been an enormous benefit not only to me personally but also to the teams he leads and to our growth and success as a company.”
Whoever his successor may be, it will not be easy to fill Luka Mucic’s shoes. SAP will have to try, though, otherwise its cloud success story will be over before it has even truly begun.