Following yesterday's post on the management changes at SAP and the pending departure of Peter Zencke, I got a call from SAP. Would I be available to discuss the issue with Peter ASAP? Here's some highlights from the conversation:
As reported, Zencke is retiring from the board, and planning to focus on new opportunities, and his family, and the other things that someone who has been working, in his words, at 140% for years would be wont to do when he reaches a certain age.
Zencke also plans to be actively involved in day to day SAP business, particularly with regards to Business ByDesign, through 2009. When I asked him what percent of his time he would be spending on SAP business versus his private life, Peter said that SAP would not get less than 100 percent for the next year and a half.
Zencke told me that the current state of development of Business ByDesign is "complete enough" for general availability, but, as befitting a new product line, there are many new and different things planned for BBD that will keep development busy for some time to come. Among the plans for BBD are integration of Business Objects technology and functionality, and an extension of some of the BBD concepts to the larger, on-premise ERP suite. Both, Zencke felt, were tasks he was comfortable leaving in the hands of the existing development team. He also added that BBD just achieved a "breakthrough" level of performance, and stated he was very satisfied with BBD's progress so far.
How would I change yesterday's blog based on this conversation? I think that the additional color on how long Zencke plans to be actively involved in BBD -- through the end of 2009 -- would have caused me to temper my concerns about BBD's prospects inside and outside SAP. It's clear that SAP won't be losing focus regarding BBD through the critical 20 months between now and Zencke's departure, and that 20 months should be plenty long enough for the market to judge how well BBD is going to meet SAP's ambitious goals.
The thing I wouldn't change is that BBD will be very much under the microscope at next month's Sapphire conference, despite some feelings inside SAP that Sapphire isn't necessarily the right event for a further unveiling of the product's capabilities and progress. I expect to see Zencke there, and the rest of his team, putting some proof points into the promises they have made about BBD and its market opportunity. Considering the importance of the product to SAP, and of SAP to the rest of the industry, noting the progress of BBD will be as good a reason to attend Sapphire as any. Even if it means yet another trip to Orlando.