News Analysis: SAP’s CEO Léo Apotheker Resigns

by R 'Ray' Wang on February 7, 2010

Apotheker’s Contract Not Renewed.  SAP Puts Snabe and McDermott In Co-Ceo Roles.

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Rumors began circulating early this weekend that Léo Apotehker’s contract would not be renewed.  The highest level sources had confirmed this early in the morning and the afternoon press release provided confirmation of the details.  A few key facts:

  • SAP moves back to Co-CEO management structure. Bill McDermott, head of field organization and Jim Hagemann Snabe, head of product development become Co-CEO’s. Point of View (POV): For undisclosed reasons, Leo’s contract was not renewed. Both Bill and Jim have extensive experience at SAP and have been hard at work revitalizing the organization from both the sales and product sides.  Many observers may be surprised not to see former Business Objects CEO John Schwarz in the running.

  • Executive Board elevates role of products and technology. Vishal Sika, chief technology officer (CTO) now appointed to the SAP Executive Board. POV: Vishal has the trust and ear of Hasso Platner and Jim Snabe.  The net result may be more unified road maps, better prioritization of R&D assets, and less issues with product development.

The Bottom Line – Timing Is Everything, But SAP’s Inflection Point Is Good News For Customers

Though a seasoned executive with over 20 years with SAP, Leo was in the wrong time wrong place.  He was responsible for doing a bang up job in sales when Henning Kagermann (i.e. the former CEO) was around.   In fact, he made Henning look good despite the difficulties in launching mySAP ERP 2007, SAP ByD, and a host of other failed projects.  Unfortunately, he entered a down market while in charge of a sinking ship.  Low morale among the Walldorf engineering team, the issue with Enterprise Support and maintenance, and uncontrollable poor quarterly performance proved to be factors beyond his control.  Customers over the past 2 to 3 years began to wonder how to tap SAP’s innovation.  A clear need emerged for having more technologists at the helm.

Putting McDermott as Co-CEO makes sense.  He is an excellent sales guys but the issues is not sales.  It’s products.  Snabe and Vishal will need strong product vision to right SAP and point it in a forward direction.   Engineering and products need more attention to bring out trapped innovation at SAP.

Your POV

Are you an SAP customer?   How do you feel about the transition?  Would you like to learn more about:

  • Building a next gen SAP roadmap?
  • Improving your SAP apps strategy?
  • Augmenting SAP with SaaS?
  • Putting third party maintenance and optimization to work?

Please post or send on to rwang0 at gmail dot com or r at softwaresinsider dot org and we’ll keep your anonymity.

Related Links And Resources

Here’s a list of resources.  They will be added on an ongoing basis and updated as appropriate.

Official SAP Press Release

20100207 ZDNet Irregular Enterprise – Dennis Howlett “SAP: Apotheker gone, Co-CEO’s in place”

Copyright © 2010 R Wang and Insider Associates, LLC. All rights reserved.

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  • ITForThePeople

    SAP's products are awful - hard to work with, inflexible, and have been that way for a long time. If you believe the end user is king, SAP would not look the way it does. SAP needs to find its way with user centric product renewal.

  • km

    i somehow feel that Leo was made the scape goat, he was the guy behind business objects acq, which was the saving grace for SAP for quite sometime now...
    SAP is quite heavy as a company, it needs to reduce its work force. Increase pay, to bring in best minds.

  • pj147

    I couldn't agree more that "product" is the problem, not sales. But while every IT pundit takes an IT view at product, nobody is reflecting the end-users voice. No doubt, SAP needs a brilliant IT/platform strategy. But when end-users demand that end solutions not be SAP because their experience and realized value is so bad, no IT strategy is going to work.

    Imagine if SAP had product that end-users actually wanted...

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