SAP’s Engineering Culture Is Dying
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SAP’s Engineering Culture Is Dying

Bjoern Goerke was the most important piece of SAP CEO Bill McDermott’s cloud strategy - and then he let him go. SAP cannot survive as a sales organization, and its engineering culture is dying as a result.

Nobody at SAP was as passionate about its technology and engineering culture as Bjoern Goerke. He was not only able to explain NetWeaver, Abap, Hana, and SAP Cloud Platform, but also created unique sci-fi stories around them.

He combined SAP’s vision with real situations that let him reach Mars, or the navigation bridge in Star Trek.

If Bjoern Goerke really works for Google now, many SAP mentors could follow suit and stop programming in Abap and start developing on Android. However, we also know that Bjoern Goerke likes Apple and already lives near Palo Alto in California, so maybe his career path will lead him there.

Bill McDermott bids SAP’s engineering culture farewell – with severe consequences.

Engineering is dead

All acquired products like SuccessFactors, Concur, Ariba, Fieldglass, and so on are only rudimentary synched with SAP’s core. A single point of truth is in no way guaranteed with S/4 and Hana. Acquired cloud solutions are not up to par to SAP’s standard.

SAP customers have to deal with SAP’s unfinished products while its executives are only thinking about sales, revenue, and profit. Could Bernd Leukert have told Hasso Plattner about these skeletons in SAP’s closet?

Fact is that McDermott is letting SAP’s engineering culture die and Leukert go before he could have told Hasso Plattner anything about technological shortcomings.

However, McDermott now has to deal with entirely new problems. Will Qualtrics ever be successfully integrated into C/4 (then Hybris)? Many experts in the SAP community don’t know how this would even work.

In this regard, some SAP employees were actually glad that Bernd Leukert left – they simply didn’t think he was capable of integration and consolidation. If his successor Juergen Mueller can do it remains to be seen.

Also unknown: how long Bill McDermott thinks SAP can survive with a heterogeneous cloud landscape and without Bjoern Goerke. Furthermore, he has to find a successor for Michael Kleinemeier in the next two years.

Bill McDermott’s success – SAP’s downfall?

At least he accomplished what he set out to do: make anyone leave who could tell Hasso Plattner about technological shortcomings of McDermott’s acquisitions. Now, Salesforce, Workday, Microsoft, and IBM are free to go forward while SAP will keep struggling with consolidation, integration, and orchestration.

Bill McDermott does not seem to like technology all that much. The departure of Bernd Leukert and Bjoern Goerke as well as the layoff of more than 4,000 employees is a disaster for customers and community. How will Hana survive if SAP lays of entire Hana labs with 250 developers?

This could all have been avoided, however. If Bernd Leukert would have taken his rightful place as Michael Kleinemeier’s successor in Digital Business Services, it would have all been alright.

He was even prepared to take on this role by supervisory board member Gerd Oswald because Kleinemeier planned on retiring at the end of 2019. Now, he extended his contract until next year and will have to keep looking for another successor while SAP’s engineering culture is dying under Bill McDermott’s reign.

This is the last article of a series. If you would like to read the first 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, AG, Munich, Germany. He can be reached at

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