SAP: Hasso Plattner back at the helm. Job no.1: rebuild trust

SAP: Hasso Plattner back at the helm. Job no.1: rebuild trust

Summary: After the weekend's news of Leo Apotheker's abrupt departure and the re-establishment of co-CEO's in Jim Snabe and Bill McDermott, SAP hosted a webcast on the situation with Hasso Plattner talking as chairman of the supervisory board. He started off straight talking and continued in that vein as far as his handlers would allow.

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TOPICS: CXO, SAP, IT Employment
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After the weekend's news of Leo Apotheker's abrupt departure and the re-establishment of co-CEO's in Jim Snabe and Bill McDermott, SAP hosted a webcast on the situation with Hasso Plattner talking as chairman of the supervisory board. He started off straight talking and continued in that vein as far as his handlers would allow.

The key takeaway is that SAP is a contrite company that has to rebuild trust : "I will do everything possible to make customers happy and employees happy. In order to be profitable you have to be a happy company," said Hasso.

Talking further on the trust issue and in particular as it relates to maintenance, he said: "Trust is a complicated thing. Don't look so faraway, I was part of the decision to raise maintenance fees. The 100 largest customers were very happy with what we were doing...We made some mistakes in some legal and political issues in Germany. I lost sight of the smaller customers...We made a mistake."

At last - someone has admitted what many armchair quarterbacks already knew but which SAP could not bring itself to acknowledge until it was crystal clear the planned rise was not going to fly in important territories. Now comes the question - what to do about it? That will be the subject of a separate discussion but it won't go away as a talking point, either for customer or Wall Street focused analysts.

Explaining the Co-CEO arrangements, he said: "This was never a short term solution for SAP...This is a common setup...For many years we have lived that way...The best years was with that structure...Before we went public we always had a multi-head approach." He justified this by harking back to 'the best years' when Ray Lane and Larry Ellison ran Oracle, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer ran Microsoft and he with Dietmar Hopp and more latterly Henning Kagermann ran SAP as a team.

I don't think anyone should read anything unusual into this at this stage. "Both Jim [Snabe] and Bill [McDermott] will keep their responsibilities in sales...actually they will probably increase the scope," sends a strong signal that SAP's revival is going to be a team effort, lead by a much admired co-founder and strong technology influencer.

Talking about the more general product direction: "We are at the advent of the largest, most significant changes in the industry...The next years will be dominated by massive parallel computers. We will see a massive shift. It will be a catastrophic move to be on maintenance without innovation. We have to maintain and innovate."

This will disappoint many who were hoping for detail on technology direction but these are very early days in the transition. Leo's sudden departure will be leaving many bemused inside SAP.

Looking at the Twitter back channel which included analysts and SAP Mentors, the general sense I get is one of relief. Questions around whether Snabe and McDermott are capable of leading the company are now on the sidelines. At least for the time being.

Topics: CXO, SAP, IT Employment

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

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4 comments
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  • Trust SAP again? Do I look THAT stupid?

    It will take a lot more than a new stuffed shirt posing in front of the head office to make me trust them again.

    Seriously, these guys aren't Toyota with a history of good work to offset their current problems -- this is SAP with it's history of lies and failures trying offset it's current lies and failures.

    Sorry, but this is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    Of course this is just my $0.02 USD and your opinion may vary -- but probably not if you were once a customer of SAP as we were.

    As one of our employees put it, "we were SAP's sap".

    Regards,
    Jon
    JonathonDoe
  • RE: SAP: Hasso Plattner back at the helm. Job no.1: rebuild trust

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  • RE: SAP: Hasso Plattner back at the helm. Job no.1: rebuild trust

    Lives, companies and economies have been ruined by this company. It is just my opinion but Hasso Plattner is no better than Bernie Madoff with a strong hint of Aldorf Hitler. The US lost world war II - all our money is in Germany.
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