What does a company, a complex machine, a living being need in times of crisis? Whether we are talking about a global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic or a more local one like SAP’s inability or unwillingness to integrate its countless cloud acquisitions – the answer always seems to be the same: control and regulation to achieve productivity and relative planning reliability. This pertains to personal wellbeing, manufacturing or distribution of products, and providing services. Cybernetics and technology are two sides of the same coin, and SAP CEO Christian Klein should brush up on his knowledge on both.
Christian Klein and the members of his executive board are very eager, enthusiastic, and usually know exactly what to say at any given moment. This positive image masks the chaos behind the scenes.
Planning reliability and the Customer Net Promoter Score
In SAP’s Integrated Report 2018, the company had to report on a negative Customer Net Promoter Score for the first time in its proud history. Customers were dissatisfied with SAP in 2017 and 2018, and more of them would not have recommended SAP than would have recommended the ERP company.
SAP thought it knew what the problem was, expecting a Net Promoter Score of +1 in 2019. They were off by a few points; the actual Net Promoter Score in 2019 was -6.
What concerns me about this is not the low score per se, but SAP’s inability to pinpoint what was wrong. A still negative Net Promoter Score and SAP’s wrong expectations show that the executive board has no idea what’s going on in the community. Planning reliability seems out of reach as SAP’s management continues to misinterpret customers’ grievances.
What about S/4 Hana and AnyDB?
Knowledge about cybernetics and technology would also come in handy concerning S/4 Hana and extended maintenance for Business Suite 7. While SAP was very clear about pushing the deadline for Suite 7 back to 2027, it left customers in the dark about NetWeaver stacks, Abap, Java, S/4 compatibility packs, and AnyDB. Without IBM, Microsoft and Oracle databases, there will be no Business Suite 7 after 2025.
It’s irresponsible for SAP to promise extended maintenance without providing more details. I’ve asked SAP executive board member Juergen Mueller about planning reliability concerning AnyDB and Business Suite 7, but I didn’t get a clear answer. He assured me that SAP would take care of it – how’s that for planning reliability?
Why should Christian Klein care about cybernetics?
Why am I so adamant about Christian Klein brushing up on his knowledge about cybernetics? Cybernetics is derived from the ancient Greek word for “steersman, governor, pilot or rudder”. SAP needs a reliable, experienced steersman at the helm. I don’t doubt that he is very eager to make a better future for SAP; it’s evident in every interview and speech that he gives. But AnyDB, cloud computing and many more topics show that SAP’s executive board still has trouble understanding the community.
Christian Klein is not alone. His executive board members are just as enthusiastic and brilliant as him. They are smart enough to tackle any intellectual challenge coming their way, but their relative inexperience might trip them up if they’re not careful.