SAP Intends to Restore Market Trust Under New Management Regime
SAP's new management team will have the task of getting the company growing again and restoring a sense of trust in the enterprise applications maker among SAP employees, partners and customers, according to Hasso Plattner, chairman of the company's Supervisory Board.A new SAP management team will focus on restoring trust inside and outside of the enterprise business software company that was lost over the past couple of years as a result of policies that led to discontent among SAP employees as well as customers, according to Hasso Plattner, chairman of the company's Supervisory Board. Plattner said making SAP a "happy company again" was a key objective after the company on Feb. 7 named co-CEOs, Bill McDermott, head of SAP's field organization, and Jim Hagemann Snabe, head of product development, to replace the former sole CEO Leo Apotheker, who resigned over the weekend. Apotheker resigned after he and the SAP Supervisory Board "reached a mutual agreement" not to extend his contract as CEO and as a member of the SAP Executive Board.
Plattner emphasized that there "was no difference of opinion between Leo and myself on strategy" and that claims to the contrary are false. But Plattner indicated that the Supervisory Board decided that something needed to be done to get SAP back on a path to solid growth. Apotheker's resignation came barely a week after SAP announced a 12 percent non-GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) decrease in operating income for the full year 2009, while total non-GAAP revenue for the period declined 9 percent.
"During his watch, customers become disenchanted over the mandatory migration and price increase related to Enterprise Support, as well as overly aggressive sales of featured products, including analytics. Mr. Apotheker couldn't have been expected to perform miracles in a down economy, and can't be blamed for the false starts with Business ByDesign that he inherited. On the other hand, Mr. Apotheker's persona projected defensiveness rather than adopting a tone of reconciliation and accountability that would have helped heal the wounds with customers."Hamerman said he was glad to see Plattner take a leading role in explaining what SAP plans to do after the departure of Apotheker. "I think it means that [Plattner] has reassumed command of the company." With the new management team in place, "They need to put the contentious issue of [product maintenance and support] behind them and I think they have taken steps to do that already prior to this event. They also need to re-establish a clear technology direction, which is something that had sort of taken a back seat under Leo's tenure," he said.
This goal is important because SAP will face even more formidable competition if Oracle's latest Fusion Web-based business applications start appearing as expected by the end of the year, Hamerman said.