Leo Apotheker, co-CEO at SAP has just concluded his keynote speech with a call for 'clarity' in enterprises of all sizes. "The past 10 months have indeed been a turning point for all of us...it is time for clarity...time to be clear...We all face a new reality and it's not just a bump on the road."
Drawing on well worn themes like SOA and business intelligence, Apotheker added a new twist, sustainability as part of the package of buzzwords he'd like to see business adopt as they move forward. "Clear enterprises are lean and agile. Accountability and sustainability are a moral requirement. People need trust in their operations."
Apotheker seemed at pains to position SAP as a thoroughly modern company: "Laggards will fade away...It's totally cool to build your own processes," he said. Contrast this last statement with what with co-founder Hasso Plattner said to some of the Irregulars two years ago when he explained that allowing the kinds of customizations which have become common in SAP environments was something he regretted.
Apotheker's take on the banking crisis seemed a little odd: "Goldmans survived because of end to end visibility and better risk management." That does not jibe with what I know about the financial markets. While he was right to point out the disconnects between front and back office trading procedures in many banks, it is a stretch to assume that software can somehow magically solve these problems. Many of the risks were inherently difficult if not impossible to quantify because of complexities in the counterparty environment. Even so, attempting to solve these problems will certainly be welcome in a post meltdown world.
There was the expected nod to work done to resolve the continuing maintenance price hike issue: "We will put our money where the KPIs are...no other software companies has such a clear commitment to its customers."
See also: Cutting software maintenance costs 101
In something of a surprise, Apotheker went out of his way to declare that SAP will move more of its applications into the 'cloud' but was careful to emphasize the notion of choice. "I firmly believe cloud computing is coming down to earth...private clouds are becoming a totally feasible possibility...all this opens the door for flexible models...on-premise, on-demand," he said. The point was emphasized by his statement that Business ByDesign is available for demo in the SME village. However, he didn't announce delivery to general availability. My pre-conference briefing was unequivocal: there is no change to planned rollout and that the market should not expect to see dramatic rollout prior to 2010.
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More reactions and updates as the day proceeds.