SAP executive board [shutterstock: 367797848, Kucher Serhii]
[shutterstock: 367797848, Kucher Serhii]
Blog Last and Least

Reshuffling The Executive Board: SAP’s Accordion

The number of SAP executive board members rises and falls, rises and falls again. In a new round of executive consolidation, SAP is repeating past mistakes.

SAP recently announced that it would consolidate some responsibilities in its executive board.

Sales, service and related customer success organizations will be bundled in the Customer Success board area managed by Adaire Fox-Martin. Product management, development and product support will also come together under one board area led by Thomas Saueressig. Juergen Mueller will be responsible for delivering one seamlessly integrated data management solution.

Furthermore, Stefan Ries and Michael Kleinemeier are set to leave the company (Ries will depart at the end of May 2020 while Kleinemeier’s last day will be April 30, 2020). Both of them have been with the company for a long time and done a great deal for SAP and its reputation, as Hasso Plattner recounts in an official press release.

SAP’s future remains uncertain

Two board members are departing soon, and from the looks of it, no one will come to fill the void. SAP seems to have given up on its own future. This may sound harsh, but if you take a look at Celonis, for example, you might have an easier time understanding where I’m coming from.

SAP partner Celonis is continuously expanding its personnel. Most recently, Miguel Milano, formerly a manager at Salesforce, joined the ranks as Chief Revenue Officer. He will be responsible for sales, marketing, customer service and the partner network. Last year, Celonis welcomed former SAP top manager Marcell Vollmer as their Chief Innovation Officer.

Looking back to what SAP’s doing, it’s becoming clear that instead of expanding on old areas and introducing new ones, the ERP company is reducing the executive board to three core topics: finance, sales, and technology.

Michael Kleinemeier is one of the most experienced SAP managers, and SAP can only hope that after a short break he’ll come back as a member of the supervisory board like Gerd Oswald did. His in-depth knowledge about the SAP community is unique.

Stefan Ries was a very skilled Chief Human Resources Officer. His role is crucial – which makes it so hard to understand why SAP would leave his position without a successor.

Where Celonis is investing, SAP is consolidating

There’s no executive board member on marketing, leaving employees to deal with problems individually on a local level. Customer service is disastrous as its Net Promoter Score 2019 of minus 6 shows – almost no SAP customer would recommend the company! Embrace had a good concept, but the execution is lacking. AWS, Google and Alibaba are almost non-existent in the SAP cloud community.

To tackle global challenges in marketing, communication, customer service and relationship management, digital transformation and HR management, SAP should expand its executive board rather than reduce it.

E-3 Magazine February 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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