SAP CEO Stays Put for the Right Reasons

It's easy to ponder what a German supervisory board is thinking from several thousand miles away, and more than one of my fellow bloggers has speculated that Henning Kagermann's tenure was extended mostly because there was no one to succeed him. That's kind of a "glass-half-empty" view of the situation, let me try another perspective (again.

It's easy to ponder what a German supervisory board is thinking from several thousand miles away, and more than one of my fellow bloggers has speculated that Henning Kagermann's tenure was extended mostly because there was no one to succeed him. That's kind of a "glass-half-empty" view of the situation, let me try another perspective (again.)

The main reason I think Kagermann is staying put is that there's a lot of unfinished work on the table that he would like to see through to fruition. The mid-market play is one, a big one, that may herald the kind of market-defining shift that SAP (and Kagermann) saw happen some 15 years ago when client/server-based R/3 came in to replace mainframe-based R/2. My guess is that Kagermann thinks he has similar revolution afoot in the mid-market, and wants to see it through. 

Another big play for SAP, and Kagermann, is SOA and Web Services.  While less his "baby" than others, including fellow board members Shai Agassi and Peter Zencke, Kagermann is committed to seeing these investments pay off, and doesn't want to rock the boat by leaving in mid-stream.  

Which really is the basis for sticking around, not some succession fight that can't be resolved. There's simply too much happening at the world's largest enterprise applications company to walk away. The battle-royale with Oracle, the growing coopetition with Microsoft, the major partnerships and a burgeoning eco-system. If Kagermann were a world-weary, tired CEO dying to be a short-timer, he might think about leaving. But with so much to do, and not a whit of it boring or mundane, it would take a seriously burned-out CEO to want to cash in his options and head for the beach.

Instead, Kagermann is heading into the breach once more, and it's going to be a lot of fun for everyone, Kagermann included, to see what the industry looks like when the dust settles at the end of his new contract period, sometime in late 2008.

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