Farewell Technology, Hello Sales
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Farewell Technology, Hello Sales

Earlier this year, E-3 Magazine ran a story about SAP CEO Bill McDermott. After that, everything changed. SAP bid farewell to its technology-oriented business model. The departure of Bernd Leukert and Bjoern Goerke is both evidence and consequence of the dawn of new times at SAP.

Our story begins long before Bernd Leukert and Bill McDermott, however. It begins after SAP co-founder Dietmar Hopp left the company. Hopp has a lot of exceptional talents, but maybe his most important one is his social intelligence. He was the one who assembled the team that founded SAP.

For him, this was only logical. To this day, he has remained a team player and invests a lot of his own money in team sports. And he was right: the five founders made SAP into the leading ERP company.

However, Hopp resigned rather early. This has left a hole in SAP’s HR management, evident in its choice of top managers and its inability to keep them in the company.

Like Dietmar Hopp, Hasso Plattner also has a lot of talents. Since he advanced to SAP’s supervisory board, however, there has been one HR catastrophe after the other.

The end of SAP’s success?

Until last year, SAP’s foundation was robust enough to prevent traditional values from vanishing. That changed: now SAP is bidding farewell to two of its top managers and its tradition as a technology company.

SAP always was a technologically innovative provider of standard enterprise software. SAP CEO Bill McDermott changed everything. Now, if he wants more SAP products, he doesn’t let SAP’s own engineers and developers get to work, but simply acquires other companies.

This will be the end of SAP’s successful culture.

McDermott did not only fire his colleague Bernd Leukert and let the President of SAP Cloud Platform Bjoern Goerke go (most likely to Google), but he also irritated his own employees by acquiring Qualtrics for 8 billion dollars.

Now, his cloud strategy is left without someone to implement it and thousands of developers, programmers, and Hana and Abap experts are getting the axe worldwide.

What happened with Bernd Leukert?

Bernd Leukert stopped being a rising SAP star some 18 months ago. This was when Bill McDermott started to pressure his executives to make more money.

Back then, a SAP supervisory board member told E-3 Magazine that the executive board is all about sales, and nothing else anymore.

Bernd Leukert is an institution in the SAP community. Right after he got his degree in business administration, he started working for SAP. Supervisory board member Gerd Oswald took Leukert under his wing because he did not want just anybody to be his successor.

At first, Oswald thought his successor would be Michael Kleinemeier, but he had other plans. He had already been CEO of itelligence before he became the manager of SAP Germany. Kleinemeier therefore knows SAP and its partners inside out.

Leukert only knows SAP, and would consequently have been a great and reliable successor of Gerd Oswald.

However, Leukert and Oswald did not account for one thing that proved fatal to their plans: Hasso Plattner.

This is the first article of a series. If you would like to read the next one, click here.

E-3 Magazine April 2019 (German)

About the author

Peter M. Färbinger, Editor-in-Chief

Peter M. Färbinger is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at E-3 Magazine, B4Bmedia.net AG, Munich, Germany. He can be reached at pmf@b4bmedia.net

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