A new line of software from SAP will let customers tap into programs on an SAP [NYSE:SAP] server and use SAP functions without installing and maintaining them on their own computers. The strategy could appeal to small and midsize companies that don’t have big IT departments. But it also puts SAP into more direct competition with companies such as Salesforce.com and could suck sales from SAP’s traditional software lines. Investors are nervous, knocking SAP’s stock price down 12% since January and pushing it off our list, down from No. 39 last year. Things don’t figure to get much easier, as archrival Oracle Corp. (ORCL ) is aggressively pushing into SAP strongholds, including manufacturing. In a tacit admission that SAP needs to listen more closely to its users, company overseers in March promoted customer-relations specialist Léo Apotheker to deputy CEO. In two years he is likely to succeed CEO Henning Kagermann.
Given the amount of worldwide financial information flowing through SAP systems, it’s pretty shocking for the company to be off this list.
[Thanks to Vinnie Mirchandani for pointing this out.]-----