The Inner Workings Of SAP‘s Image Preservation
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The Inner Workings Of SAP‘s Image Preservation

SAP is experiencing some challenges: Hana anomalies are still a thing and the executive board has been reorganized. Still, Bill McDermott is trying to preserve his image as savior. Moreover, he has bought yet another company, even though the stock price is decreasing.

It is ancient wisdom that attacking enemies always seems the best prospect when internal problems arise. SAP CEO Bill McDermott has chosen Salesforce as his preferred enemy. He first attacked at Sapphire in Orlando, where he promised the astonished attendants a new CRM suite – like a magician would pull a rabbit out of his hat.

However, good magicians pull out a real rabbit or even a tiger or a lion. Bill McDermott only managed to produce hot air and a vague promise. Right now, the new CRM suite C/4 Hana is nothing more than a piece of work.

A weak weapon against Salesforce

With C/4 and Hana, Bill McDermott wants to bring CRM champion Salesforce to its knees. For this exact reason, McDermott acquired the Swiss e-commerce system Hybris some years prior. At the beginning of this year, he doubled down on his decision and bought the CPQ (Configure Price Quote) tool Callidus. Now, SAP acquired Qualtrics for eight billion dollars. Qualtrics offers analytics and data visibility of all e-commerce channels including the verification of competing companies as well as the e-mail exchange between employees.

SAP wants to combine Hybris, Callidus and Qualtrics as well as a cooperation with Adobe and Microsoft to a CRM suite for customer experience and experience management. Even now, it is obvious that it will only be a weak attempt at getting back at Salesforce and others.

With numerous interfaces to ERP, Abap modifications, and prevention of Indirect Access, many SAP customers will opt for SAP’s CRM suite. After many years of customizing, it will work just fine – but sustainable market success is something else entirely.

ERP’s complexity

SAP is and will remain a technically challenging and complex IT system. For the five founders, this was never a problem. Also former CEO professor Henning Kagermann knows Abap and loves math, so he never had a problem with ERP’s complexity.

Bill McDermott, on the other hand, is a salesman through and through. Technology is a means to an end, and this end is tripling the stock price. McDermott does not think it problematic to combine Hybris, Callidus and Qualtrics with 40 years of ERP tradition with a far from finished data base.

Abap is not universal and the Hana Execution Engine (HEX) still has to deal with anomalies. Nobody expects that a complex SQL data base with in-memory computing components will be mature after only a few years – save for SAP. SAP technicians had to learn the hard way that such an IT miracle can never become reality.

Image preservation is not just about new products. Consequently, Bill McDermott has reorganized the executive board, acquired Callidus and Qualtrics to establish dominance over the market – and over CTO Bernd Leukert.

Dethroning Bernd Leukert

Bernd Leukert’s successor is not well-known: Juergen Mueller was SAP CIO and is now Chief Technology Officer and executive board member. Experts and insiders believe that Hasso Plattner had a hand in this HR castling. After all, Juergen Mueller is a successful alumnus of the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany.

Bernd Leukert will stay on the executive board. Starting with next year, he will be responsible for SAP service.

It remains to be seen if Bill McDermott’s internal and external decisions this year were wise. Combining Hybris, Callidus and Qualtrics to build C/4 is a Herculean task. Bjoern Goerke as Bernd Leukert’s successor would have been more consistent and logical. Furthermore, the SAP community would have welcomed him with open arms, seeing as he is kind of a celebrity among SAP mentors.

However, Juergen Mueller seems to have better lobbyists on the inside. Or maybe Bernd Leukert was simply not able to deliver on Hana modifications, analytics in the cloud and Abap in SCP. Who knows? Certainly not the SAP community. And honestly, nobody can blame them for becoming irritated with SAP’s riddles and mysteries.

E-3 Magazine December 2018/January 2019 (German)

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

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