I was very anxious for the first Sapphire after Bernd Leukert’s sacking. During an earlier visit at SAP headquarters, people had already warned me that not CTO Juergen Mueller, but CEO Bill McDermott’s confidant Christian Klein would be on the Sapphire stage.
That’s why I instructed my assistant to turn up the volume on the livestream as soon as COO Klein would enter the stage. Together, we marveled at the COO’s struggle to survive the Sapphire stage.
Christian Klein is not stupid – just inexperienced. Which is why some of his arguments were wrong and he seemed overburdened on the Sapphire stage. He was quick to tell attendees and everyone willing to listen about what should be, what could be, and what maybe will be.
One of the key principles of SAP’s founders was and still is integration – the single point of truth. Bill McDermott instructed Klein to finally integrate all of his cloud acquisitions with each other (after my friend Bernd Leukert apparently failed).
It is weird to think that a non-technician (McDermott) assigns another non-technician (Klein) a very difficult technical integration task while technician Juergen Mueller watches from the shadows. Why don’t SAP’s Hasso Plattner or supervisory board member Gerd Oswald intervene?
Victim of his circumstances
Executive board member Christian Klein is not the one to blame – he is a victim. McDermott gives him every inter-divisional task that he can think of. He is everywhere these days – everywhere McDermott doesn’t want to be, that is.
Klein had to attend the opening of the multipurpose hall that SAP built together with Red Bull in Munich, Germany, and had to play judge for the ridiculous naming contest of said hall. At the Hannover Messe, Chief Operating Officer Klein had to show German chancellor Angela Merkel around, because neither SAP CEO McDermott nor CTO Mueller were available on the date of the biggest industry conference worldwide.
If Christian Klein gives a similar performance to his Sapphire keynote during the DSAG annual conference in autumn this year, we might have to deal with DSAG’s first hacklers.
His Sapphire keynote wasn’t great – but it was enough for Orlando. At DSAG’s annual conference, however, he won’t stand a chance.
Christian Klein isn’t ready for DSAG yet
The DSAG annual conference is one of the most important SAP events worldwide, with thousands of critical and constructive customers in attendance every year. Klein won’t be able to sway them with visions, promises, and possibilities. I myself am sending eight of my employees to attend the conference this year – and I expect that they come back with concrete, feasible answers and solutions.
DSAG chairman Marco Lenck has increased the stakes for COO Christian Klein with his Sapphire statement, “Ariba, Hybris, Concur, Fieldglass, Callidus, and most recently Qualtrics: SAP’s acquisition policy has led to a massive need in recent years to bring systems and master data together. We have already informed SAP that the integration of the individual components is still unsatisfactory.”
“We maybe took one or two years too long to respond to the integration issue,” Christian Klein told Handelsblatt, a German magazine. Now, it’s supposedly more important than ever that SAP focuses on it. There’s apparently dedicated personnel working on the issue, and there allegedly already are many integrated business processes.
A friend told me that Hasso Plattner said in his keynote that the only way forward is to get rid of legacies, start over in the SAP public cloud, and build bridges to Qualtrics with SAP’s own tools. Plattner the bridge builder versus Klein the integrator?
What can the community do?
I strongly believe that we as a community have to become even more independent of SAP. The company is still the best when it comes to business concepts and applications, but I think it is time that we turn to other vendors for our databases, cloud platforms, middleware, operating systems, security, IoT, and AI.
SAP customers are responsible for operations. We should be careful in choosing our suppliers and developers.