Who still remembers the competition between Data General and Digital Equipment Coporation (DEC) in IBM’s shadow? Data General wanted to create a new generation of computers – and it wanted to be faster than rival Ken Olsen, founder of DEC.
The book The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder recounts the tale of the project and the history of hardware and software developers. 1982, ten years after SAP was founded, the book was awarded a Pulitzer price.
SAP’s founders, former IBM employees, might deserve a similar book to tell their story. The Soul of New Business Economics would describe their fight for consistency, transparency, standardization and integration.
The ERP company is not just a vehicle that gets you from point A to point B. SAP has a soul and an enterprise standard software philosophy. Remembering this is important when analyzing recent developments and planning further steps.
How not to do it
After SAP released it’s Q2 financial results, a German magazine speculated how SAP might ease the new concerns of shareholders. To increase margins and pacify investors like US hedge fond Elliott, the magazine indicated that SAP might sell business areas.
CFO Luka Mucic cautiously hinted at the possibility when he said that SAP might get rid off redundant or small investments. However, this is definitely not a good long-term strategy. SAP customers and partners would suffer if SAP ripped itself into smaller pieces.
SAP’s soul consists of homogeneous, verified E2E processes. Even though it should have been, integration was not the company’s focus in the past years. At Sapphire 2019 in Orlando, Florida, SAP COO Christian Klein promised that he would take the integration issue seriously, that he would take good care of SAP’s battered soul. If he will be able to deliver on that promise remains to be seen.