Everything was better in the good old days? For once, I have to disagree – at least when it comes to SAP. Since the very moment he was announced as CEO, Christian Klein has made an effort to listen and understand his customers better. He and his executive board colleagues are definitely trying to communicate more (and better!) with the SAP community.
Even though I’m sometimes giving him a hard time in my editorials, I really am impressed with Christian Klein. He’s always open to new ideas, doesn’t avoid confrontation, and knows how to listen patiently. He prides himself on knowing what he wants, what’s good for SAP, and what the community needs. He’s the ideal CEO, right?
Well, about that…
SAP’s stock price is rising, the company is becoming more valuable – of course, this can only be attributed to the hard work of Christian Klein and his savvy CFO Luka Mucic. However, my question is: Are his efforts paying off for the SAP community and his customers? All good intentions aside, does he actually have a strategy for making good on his – and, more generally, SAP’s – promises?
Here’s an example of what I mean: To most customers’ delight, SAP decided to extend maintenance for Business Suite 7 and ERP/ECC 6.0 until 2027/2030. A necessary step to take, since many companies were (and still are) hesitant to make the switch. Shortly after the announcement, the German-speaking SAP user group (DSAG) held their annual event ‘Technology Days’ (yes, in person – seems like years ago, doesn’t it?) where SAP CTO Juergen Mueller was set to attend. Surely, he would have more details on the announcement, right?
Not exactly. I attended the event and a press conference with Mueller, asking him about what would happen to NetWeaver and AnyDB after 2025. Of course, technically speaking, non-Hana databases from third-party providers like IBM, Microsoft and Oracle will still continue to operate after December 31, 2025. But what about the necessary licenses, maintenance and support? Had SAP already come to an agreement with its AnyDB partners? Mueller evaded the question, saying that it was a strategic decision on SAP’s part to ‘split up’ the announcement, with an answer to my question about AnyDB coming very soon. Almost a year later, I’m still waiting.
It’s certainly a bold strategy to keep the community waiting on such a fundamentally important question – if customers cannot properly license their third-party databases with SAP after 2025, they need to come up with a contingency plan, after all. I don’t think it’s the right strategy, though. While listening to customers is important, SAP’s management shouldn’t stop putting in the work.