Dear Hasso Plattner, I am writing you a letter and sending it as a message in a bottle. Luck has always been with me in the SAP community, so I hope that this message, too, will eventually reach you in a safe place. Sending a message in a bottle to an enthusiastic sailor seems logical to me.
Whether Bill McDermott has also retreated to a Caribbean island near you for shelter and rest, I don't know - but it would be a tradition. Not only in the U.S. ski resort of Aspen, where you own two houses, but also in your home in the Caribbean, you have often talked.
Bill no longer works for SAP, although he still gets a lot of money from you, that's just the way modern managerial contracts are, but that's another story. I'm writing you this message in a bottle from a bygone IT era, when hardware still drove the business.
You know this era well. There are three examples in my archives from that time: Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), Compaq and Apple. The PC shooting star Compaq bought the struggling minicomputer pioneer DEC and both together were taken over by HP.
Ultimately, the golden decades of hardware manufacturers came to an end. Apple and a few others managed the metamorphosis into software and service providers. Apple still sells a lot of hardware, but software is the differentiator.
With ERP software, SAP not only differentiated itself from the competition, but also established a new type of relationship management. Intellectual property was not an issue between existing customers, partners and SAP. Intellectual property was owned by the growing SAP community.
The common was stronger than the separating. Everyone knew their place, their responsibilities and their tasks. Today, however, coopetition or cooperation competition prevails and existing customers are looking anxiously to the future.
Relationship management between partners, customers and your SAP is in disarray. The move to the cloud is only partially working. You find yourself competing for cooperation with loyal companions.
The relationship with partners like Oracle and IBM is diffuse. What will become of Suite 7 users by 2030 who work on Oracle? What about Hana and the powerful on-prem solution IBM Power?
There are many questions from the SAP community for you and Bill McDermott's successors. After hardware came standard software in your own data center, now many are focused on the cloud.
What comes after cloud computing is uncertain. Whether there will be an agreement between SAP and Oracle regarding Business Suite 7 is uncertain. What the world will look like in a year's time and which island you will be on then is uncertain.
Honest relationship management would be the only constant and necessary condition for a successful SAP community.