SAP Christian Klein Qualtrics [shutterstock: 1484273711, Shchus]
[shutterstock: 1484273711, Shchus]
Blog Editor-in-Chief

Listening To SAP Customers Is Important But No Substitute For Putting In Work

While it’s nice of SAP CEO Christian Klein and his management team to assure customers that they are listening to their sorrows and wishes, all of this goodwill means nothing if they don’t act on what they hear. Prime example: Qualtrics.

I don’t think that it was the customers’ idea to spin out Qualtrics to do a little damage control – no, that one’s all SAP CEO Christian Klein. Or was it CFO Luka Mucic? He’s renowned for his strategic, calculating foresight. With how reliable and capable he is with SAP’s finances, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had long since created an Excel spreadsheet comparing Qualtrics’ presumed stock gains and its way overboard acquisition cost.

In a recent SAP community call, executive board member Thomas Saueressig said that Qualtrics was an important part of SAP software development. Furthermore, Saueressig affirmed that the acquired cloud software would continue to enhance existing SAP components and therefore remain an integrated part of its end-to-end processes. Spinning out Qualtrics as an independent and public company allegedly won’t change that.

Could it be that SAP is making a virtue of necessity? Before SAP acquired Qualtrics for 8 billion US dollars, original estimates put Qualtrics at a market value of 4 to 5 billion US dollars. It was a risky move, and it has yet to pay off: after failed integration efforts and foiled consolidation attempts with SAP’s one-domain model, it’s only reasonable for the ERP company to consider damage control. Qualtrics going public might rake in some billion US dollars to compensate SAP’s losses.

SAP shouldn’t rely on customers to point out weak spots

In the aforementioned community call, SAP executive board member Thomas Saueressig was also asked if there was still a chance to integrate and consolidate Qualtrics with the Hana database. Despite the moderator repeating it, Saueressig skipped this apparently embarrassing question for SAP.

After many years of uncertainty and doubt, most other cloud acquisitions have found their way onto Hana. Qualtrics is different, however, and it’s not like SAP’s management didn’t know that: a little over a year ago, Christian Klein already speculated that Qualtrics and Hana might not be a good match, and he was right. A lot of experts shared his opinion, and customers weren’t enthused about the acquisition, either. If only SAP had listened to them then, right?

I’m not saying that listening to customers is a bad idea. What I’m saying is that SAP shouldn’t rely on them to point out where its weak spots are, where integration is failing, or which products and solutions to resell. Capable executive board members should be able to recognize these things on their own.

Christian Klein has numerous experts and top executives at his disposal that can accurately pinpoint where SAP’s construction sites are and recommend what to do about them. To passively listen to the testimony and recommendations of individual customers without lifting a finger is not the same as actively repairing what doesn’t work and researching what the market and the SAP community need.

E-3 Magazine September 2020 (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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