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Not better, but further

I asked SAP CEO Christian Klein whether Suite 7 was not too perfect to make way for S/4. He said that it's not about better or worse, but about acting quickly and thinking ahead.
Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine
December 3, 2020
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

The digital transformation is the opportunity to think further, beyond the familiar horizon. This expansion of the ERP horizon is the vision of SAP CEO Christian Klein. He motivates existing customers, partners and his own employees to rethink ERP - perhaps even to reinvent it. His role model? None other than the five SAP founders and their free spirit almost 50 years ago.

From today's perspective, it may seem almost trivial what SAP founders Dietmar Hopp, Hasso Plattner, Claus Wellenreuther, Klaus Tschira, and Hans-Werner Hector accomplished back then: a database as a single point of truth, combined with a few application modules and the ability to drill down from any situation to the original document (later, this worked with R/3 with several mouse clicks).

At that time it was revolutionary because the prevailing opinion was: DV/Org problems are solved with hardware! That was also the real reason why Dietmar Hopp and his colleagues left the global corporation IBM. IBM believed in the power of hardware; back then, Hasso Plattner and colleagues already saw the future in software.

IBM still held on to the mainframe paradigm for many years, while shortly after SAP was founded in Walldorf, the most innovative ERP software in the world is still being created today. Professor Henning Kagermann, as the first SAP CEO after the founder and owner generation, was still able to carry on this innovative spirit of standard business software.

Léo Apotheker and Bill McDermott saw their added value in aggressive sales and growing revenue. The brief interlude with the dual leadership of Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott could not change much about the commercial orientation of the ERP world market leader.

Young in years, but obviously already equipped with a lot of life experience, Christian Klein is now breaking new ground as SAP CEO:

"One year as SAP CEO. How Christian Klein has stepped up the pressure. The 40-year-old is trimming the Dax company for customer friendliness - and repositioning it. In the process, he's taking both old and new executives to task."Christof Kerkmann writes logically in the Handelsblatt.

And no one at SAP has ever defined and exemplified the term "customer friendliness" as comprehensively and sustainably as Christian Klein. It is no longer the selfish pursuit of achieving an even better share price, but the endeavor to guarantee SAP's existing customers a secure future with SAP software. In the highly acclaimed DSAG keynote in mid-October, Christian Klein not only emphasized listening, but also offered the audience subsequent action and demanded it from his employees - is that possible?

The DSAG keynote was on Monday morning, October 12. Involuntarily, I was still sitting in the office shortly before midnight that day, typing our advance return for sales tax into the Elster program of the Traunstein tax office. The tax office has updated Elster-Online and SAP Business One version 9.3 is no longer compatible with it (the current version has been 10 for almost a year). I remembered the words of Christian Klein and wrote him a short mail: I need help!

Two days later, I was contacted by SAP manager Rainer Zinow, whom I have known very well for more than ten years now, and he explained to me that SAP does not want to deliver a patch for version 9.3 anymore for understandable reasons - but they would very much like to think about a pragmatic solution! Journalist bonus, right?

Three days after the DSAG keynote on Thursday I got the following mail: "Hi Peter, the pragmatic solution has proven to be implementable. We will deliver a new version of the Elster add-on for B1 9.3. We need two weeks to update the add-on and test it extensively with our Local Product Experts. We will inform all German partners about the decision in the next days. Best regards, Rainer Zinow."

Listen and act - SAP could not have demonstrated the words of their boss from the keynote better. It is very impressive how the ERP global corporation has been able to transform itself within just a few months. Although all the respect belongs to the young SAP Executive Board team of Christian Klein, Jürgen Müller and Thomas Saueressig, the many "fatherly" tips and tricks from Hasso Plattner and Gerd Oswald must naturally also be taken into account. Hasso Plattner spoke very openly and self-critically about the McDermott era, and SAP Supervisory Board member Gerd Oswald has accompanied Christian Klein on his successful career path for many years.

Now it's up to the SAP community to challenge the board members Christian Klein, Jürgen Müller and Thomas Saueressig, because they can not only listen, but also deliver. I would be very happy to hear more success stories or to help out when things get stuck. Use my e-mail address or the phone number +49 160 4785121 to work together to successfully and digitally transform the SAP community.

Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine

Peter M. Färbinger, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief E3 Magazine DE, US and ES (, AG, Freilassing (DE), E-Mail: and Tel. +49(0)8654/77130-21

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Working on the SAP basis is crucial for successful S/4 conversion. 

This gives the Competence Center strategic importance for existing SAP customers. Regardless of the S/4 Hana operating model, topics such as Automation, Monitoring, Security, Application Lifecycle Management and Data Management the basis for S/4 operations.

For the second time, E3 magazine is organizing a summit for the SAP community in Salzburg to provide comprehensive information on all aspects of S/4 Hana groundwork. All information about the event can be found here:

SAP Competence Center Summit 2024


Event Room, FourSide Hotel Salzburg,
At the exhibition center 2,
A-5020 Salzburg

Event date

June 5 and 6, 2024

Regular ticket:

€ 590 excl. VAT


Event Room, Hotel Hilton Heidelberg,
Kurfürstenanlage 1,
69115 Heidelberg

Event date

28 and 29 February 2024


Regular ticket
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The organizer is the E3 magazine of the publishing house AG. The presentations will be accompanied by an exhibition of selected SAP partners. The ticket price includes the attendance of all lectures of the Steampunk and BTP Summit 2024, the visit of the exhibition area, the participation in the evening event as well as the catering during the official program. The lecture program and the list of exhibitors and sponsors (SAP partners) will be published on this website in due time.