Thoughts on being hermitically sealed inside the SAP Mothership

Does SAP mean what it says? Go witness and then decide.
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor

This week I am at SAP HQ in Walldorf. It is like being transported into an 'other' universe where reality is suspended in favor of sucking up the SAP 'innovation' Kool-Aid. Or is it?

In the 16-17 years I have been following, recommending, implementing and fighting against SAP I have to confess this is the first time I have spent time at SAP's invitation to visit Walldorf and meet with senior team leaders. Some might argue that I have successfully avoided being sucked into the SAP reality distortion field. Smarter thinkers argue differently.

Before arriving here, I exchanged brief notes with Vinnie Mirchandani who told me that in 1996-99, SAP invited Gartner teams to deep dive into what SAP was offering. Whatever has passed in the meantime is of little consequence though Vinnie has campaigned quietly for monkeys like myself to be engaged with the company at a far deeper level than the entertainment perspective that bloggers can provide.

What have I learned so far?

In the late '90's early 2000's SAP was an arrogant company that thought it could rule the world. That perception persisted through the 2000's to the point when the maintenance price hike issue gave SAP a reality check. Times change.

In between, SAP quietly established a blogger program.

In today's parlance that might sound passé unless you understand what that means to a company like SAP that has taken a hammering from bloggers for its insensitive attitude to customers. Fast forward to today.

SAP is in the so-called 'quiet earnings period' yet still co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe made time to meet with myself and Phil Wainewright. If SAP was likely to have a shabby Q1 result there is no way that Jim would meet with us, still less talk about radical new ways of going to market with the company's OnDemand solutions. (For which more later on video.)

More important - and Phil will provide his own perspective - SAP appears to have given up on trying to impress bloggers by bluster and is more interested in getting feedback based upon our market understanding. That creates a two way conduit that no other vendor attempts to open up.

OK - so...kudos aside - are we impressed? Phil will speak for himself but there was one small detail I feel speaks volumes for the company's declared and demonstrable belief in what it says. Jim turned up in an electric powered car....how many CEO's say what they mean and mean what they say?

More on the detail we learned later.

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