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SAP’s Critical Juncture

At the critical juncture, SAP must determine its future course of action. Will its projects freeze and shatter, or will SAP become fluid, agile, and successful? Christian Klein has recklessly led the company to this exact point.

SAP is teetering on the brink

Many SAP projects in the company are on the brink of failure and I can’t complain about the lack of work. Of course, SAP is not always the instigator, but we have many of our projects currently under review because essential framework parameters have changed. But what was previously waved through by the CIO because it was SAP, is now being scrutinized particularly closely.

SAP CEO Christian Klein has made an ambivalent impression on us in the company. In person, he is very polite, courteous, modest, and a great listener. The results and effects of his work, however, are below average. (I used a different word in the original manuscript, but my wife admonished me and said I should be more tolerant towards such a young manager, even if he is a CEO.)

I don’t want to evaluate Christian Klein’s work from the perspective of one of SAP’s largest long-standing customers, so I will instead simply refer to the current stock market price. The SAP share has been fluctuating within a narrow margin of 83 and 93 EUR. Not so long ago, analysts saw the share price rise to 140 EUR and more. Professor Hasso Plattner, one of the original founders of SAP, is certainly not satisfied with its current stock market value.

For Christian Klein, the challenge is to get SAP moving again, to make SAP fascinating and attractive again, to make SAP open, agile, and communicative again. We rely on and trust in SAP because we see the potential—beyond Hana and S/4. Many interesting things could still be on the way, but SAP must make an effort. SAP must overcome its shock paralysis; it cannot not freeze up at the critical juncture.

Where is SAP’s new energy coming from? An important energy source is now leaving SAP: CFO Luka Mucic has voluntarily, involuntarily resigned. His successor is Dominik Asam from Airbus. My CFO says that this new CFO for SAP is an excellent choice but could also become a threat to the other very young SAP board members. Asam would not be the first CFO to become CEO very quickly. Plattner’s capricious personnel management is notoriously well known. Next year marks the beginning of his last year as chairman of the supervisory board, and we all know that he wants to leave behind a well-ordered house. What is missing is an experienced manager who is young enough for the board, but who is not yet eyeing the chair of the supervisory board—for that, Professor Hasso Plattner will have to find someone else.

But there’s no need to panic. Other IT companies have already explored their options when faced with similar positions to SAP’s. Microsoft has succeeded brilliantly in moving into in the areas of open source, cloud services, and GitHub. At IBM, the move away from hardware and towards software and cloud services was correct in principle, even if the management has not yet executed it perfectly. I cannot guess what is to become of Oracle’s adventure with Cerner’s software for the healthcare sector. We have no involvement in this area.

SAP CEO Christian Klein has arrived to a polycrisis. The cleanup after Bill McDermott’s disastrous leadership was too slow and now SAP is in chaos. Hana and S/4 are gaining momentum, but much too slowly. The share price and contribution margin are falling, and only price increases will help. It is hardly possible to save even more on travel costs and organizational optimizations after two years of a global pandemic. There is a lack of qualified employees because many have left for partners and competitors, such as Celonis. Customers can also forget about the supervisory board providing a firm and calm guiding hand—Professor Plattner is far too busy worrying about himself. Christian Klein does not want to meet the active, long-standing, German-speaking customers at the DSAG (German-speakers User Group) Annual Congress in Leipzig either. What are customers to do?

About the author

N. N. (Nomen Nescio)

Nomen nescio, abbreviated to N.N., is used to signify an anonymous or unnamed person.


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  • I have been a SAP partner for 20 years. Open, agile and communicative is not in SAP’s DNA. They have too many “lifers” who believe the SAP way is the only way. They are so arrogant they do no competive research and don’t listen to customers or partners.
    All that matters is “what is good for SAP” vs the entire ecosystem! They continue to make the same mistakes over and over again and expect different results. Think ByDESIGN vs S4Hana Public cloud. SAP partners know better. SAP should lay off 20,000 people in all of those “I am overcomplicating this to justify my job” positions.
    happen. HASSO needs to go, this is all on him. He has been the puppet master! And he dumped HANA on everyone – a database 15 years behind the industry standards!

    • Yes, you are absolutely right. SAP lives in its own bubble and communicates very little with the outside world. SAP has made many mistakes in the past because the company does not allow an open exchange of opinions and ideas with the community. And this has led to SAP Business ByDesign now being discontinued and S/4 public cloud not being very successful.

    • On the mark. Hana is totally a no go. All half baked cost optimisers with no documentation or tools for analyst or optimisation.
      Leave db designs to real database companies not to amateurs which is what exactly happened.

  • SAP has bought into an opportunity that will have 100x bigger impact … they purchased Signavio. This enables a standard for process modeling the can be used for mining, workflow, automation and artificial intelligence. My company, Qorvo, has bought into this big time and we see the benefits and the potential future. SAP calls the “Rise with SAP”. I believe they are being modest in their assessment and potential opportunities.

    • Signavio is an excellent product with what is probably great potential. But the same is also true for Celonis, which SAP had a partnership with before Signavio. If you want to describe the potential of Signavio from the perspective of an SAP partner, you are more than welcome to send us your written text to:

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