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Sense of Urgency

There is pressure to act, which SAP CEO Christian Klein obviously does not feel. He spends his days doing small-scale repair work. Working with commitment and forgetting the big picture - Klein is left without a strategy.
14 June 2023
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

Even my own Executive Board has already experienced it: SAP is transforming itself into a cloud company. SAP's successful balance sheet figures show the success of this ambitious project. When I presented Christian Klein's SAP strategy in my own words at our annual board meeting, I received only mild smiles. The board did not want to doubt or discredit my words or the ideas Christian Klein had passed on, but the transformation of a technical operating model from on-prem to cloud is at best an operational challenge, but by no means a visionary strategy. Is there anything more to come? the board asked me at our retreat.

SAP is under pressure due to existing legacy issues. The Supervisory Board's personnel policy has been modest in recent years: There is a member of the Executive Board who was elected with only one vote - the vote of Professor Hasso Plattner, and no one dared to object. There is the Microsoft rope team on the SAP Executive Board, which is now being voluntarily left by one Executive Board member, the other member of the rope team may not be allowed to leave because of the danger that the press will again write "SAP can't do women." Memories of Jennifer Morgan come to mind and the ill-fated dual leadership with Christian Klein. There is the completed and, for many, surprising CFO personnel rochade. Ex-SAP CFO Luka Mucic had to go, and now Dominik Asam is supposed to fix it.

Professor Plattner felt pressure to act because the SAP stock price had not been to his liking in the past. Luka Mucic was exposed as the culprit. He communicated too little with financial analysts and experts at banks, investors and stock exchanges. Now Dominik Asam is supposed to do better. For Christian Klein, however, the pressure to act remains, both operationally, where does he get suitable members for his Executive Board, and strategically, where can a long-term and successful SAP strategy be found.

Our board of directors is also asking me about a resilient SAP strategy. Cloud computing, S/4 maintenance until 2040, and Abap on the Business Technology Platform are good and interesting parameters for SAP operations, but not insights that a board member of one of the leading industrial companies wants to hear in a closed meeting. Trials using blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning are also not visions that our board wants to be guided by. Nor does our board want to hear private, individual and whimsical attempts to explain the future from the mouth of Christian Klein - I am perfectly adequate for this as an "SAP ambassador".

In our board retreat, the sense of urgency for a long-term ERP strategy became obvious. Our Executive Board is aware that neither the highly esteemed Supervisory Board member Gerd Oswald nor CEO Christian Klein possess a veritable crystal ball. Nevertheless, it seems to be the order of the day to think about Industry 5.0, an S/4 successor, the future of data management with and without Hana. The first approach of an ERP discourse is not about final answers, but about possibilities, about orientation and the opening of perspectives.

SAP under the leadership of Christian Klein is neglecting the future. His repair service behavior is currently preventing the collapse of the ERP world market leader. However, our board's question is: Are there not capable SAP managers for the many important and operational challenges, so that CEO Klein can devote himself to the future? When Christian Klein is asked about the future of SAP, the community hears the messages already quoted above: cloud computing and S/4 maintenance by 2040. But these statements are not enough for strategically thinking people. Nor does our Executive Board want intimate boardroom discussions with SAP executives, but rather a public discourse with existing customers, partners, analysts, our DSAG, and the entire SAP community about a possible ERP future. This discourse must start now. It must be an Agenda 2050 and it must be democratic, transparent and public.


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Regular ticket
EUR 590 excl. VAT
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