Apotheker goes for theatrics; Kagermann the details

SAP co-CEO Leo Apotheker had a simple message in his keynote Tuesday: It's all about the business network, which consists of companies, suppliers, customers and all the data that flows between them. And to be in that network you need SAP.

SAP co-CEO Leo Apotheker had a simple message in his keynote Tuesday: It's all about the business network, which consists of companies, suppliers, customers and all the data that flows between them. And to be in that network you need SAP.

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Sound like a sales pitch? You bet. Here's a tale of two keynotes at SAP's Sapphire conference in Orlando that illustrate the distinction between Apotheker and outgoing chief Henning Kagermann.

Bottom line: Apotheker is a sales guy. Kagermann, the affable engineer. Kagermann talks about SOA and frameworks. Apotheker talks about business networks and how you need SAP to be in the club. Apotheker gets more than a few chuckles. And Apotheker isn't above using props. He had a Harley, a fork lift, a demo, three CIOs and a bottle of Coke.

Jim Haney, CIO Harley Davidson, rides in on a Fat Boy. Coca-Cola Enterprise's CIO Esat Sezer rides in on a forklift and hands Apotheker a Coke. Only Procter and Gamble CIO Filippo Passerini, a 14-year customer of SAP, was understated. But Passerini didn't need props--he had jaw-dropping revenue growth and a global footprint.

It was entertaining with Apotheker as the ring-leader, but I honestly don't remember much. There was a Business All-in-One announcement in there somewhere, but compared to a Harley it was overshadowed a bit.

Weaved throughout Apotheker's keynote were three plugs for various booths on the conference floor. "We're sure you'll like what you see," said Apotheker.

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