SAP Sapphire: SuccessFactors' Lars Dalgaard swings for the cloud fences

Former SuccessFactors CEO Lars Dalgaard makes his pitch that SAP bought a winner that can take the company into a cloud-based future.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor


ORLANDO, Fla. -- Lars Dalgaard could sell ice to an Eskimo.

Ten years old! One hundred percent in the cloud!

Three thousand five hundred customers! 15.6 million unique users!

The former SuccessFactors chief Lars Dalgaard took to the stage here at SAP's Sapphire Now conference to make his best sales pitch that his former company was not only worth its $3.4 billion sticker price, but is indeed just the thing to reinvigorate SAP's lackluster forays into cloud computing.

We're closing in on $500 million in 2012 billings!

Our largest cloud purchase? 2.2 million users!

You'd think Dalgaard had a second career as an Oxyclean spokesman the way he paced around onstage, alternately assaulting the senses with sales figures, Powerpoint animations and the imperative tense in a heady, energetic, over-articulated mix that left audience members in a condition in which they could only say, "Yes!"

Thirty-four languages!

One hundred and sixty-eight countries!

Sixty industries!

Why do you care about that scale? You care about it because we can take care of you. We know how to handle that in the cloud!

That's not to say Dalgaard was insincere in his cameo at the end of co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe's keynote speech this morning; quite the contrary. Dalgaard knows the stakes. He's the new guy on the block, and he needs to prove his worth to both SAP and investors. And if he can keep the growth going by rapidly upselling to SAP's existing customers, all the better.

"We deliver results," Dalgaard said emphatically. "You can trust us with this. We know how to succeed."

Dalgaard spent a lot of time talking up SuccessFactors' leadership in the cloud: security, UX and flexibility were all highlighted.

"You customers are so brave," he said, letting the word hang in the air, for bringing new technologies to bear.

But, like his SAP executive colleagues before him, Dalgaard let customers in attendance ground the claims.

After a short video introducing sports apparel maker Under Armour, he threw to HR director Troy Barnett for a live testimonial.

After discussing CRM, Dalgaard threw to Union Pacific compensation director Dina Tilgner for some love.

And then he brought it all home.

"SuccessFactors uses SAP OnDemand," he said. "We're 100 percent SAP cloud right now."

Sourcing, Sales, Travel, and yes -- even Business ByDesign. All in a matter of six weeks.

"We've thrown all the other guys out, and we're loving it," Dalgaard said. "And for the first time, clean, consistent data across the suite."

Fifty-five thousand SAP employees use eight SuccessFactors products, he said. SAP uses its own OnDemand cloud products, too. If Dalgaard needed to demonstrate to analysts, investors and critics that his company could indeed be integrated into SAP, he was willing to show them it could by eating his own dog food.

Everybody's using SAP cloud products. Why aren't you?

"We would love for you to extend your investment with SAP in the cloud," Dalgaard said. "Five thousand SAP people are ready to help you in the cloud."

See also: SAPPHIRE Now day 2 wrap - a cloudy and confusing daySuccessFactors swaps NetSuite for ByDesignCEO outlines vision for 'a better future'SAP HANA teams with Opera Solutions for real-time packaged analyticsSustainability is dead. Long live sustainability

Photo: Tom Raftery

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