Supply Chain Matters has often pointed out to our readers that bad news from industrial and information technology firms often come on the weekend when readers and interested parties are occupied with mostly personal matters.
And so it was this weekend as yesterday, global enterprise software provider SAP AG announced another stunning announcement regarding executive re-alignment.
The primary headline that is sure to capture the interest of SAP customers and the broader IT and consultant vendor community is that Dr. Vishal Sikka, Executive Board Member for Products and Innovation, the de-facto Chief Technology Officer and primary shepherd for the development of the SAP HANA platform announced his departure for personal reasons.
At the surface this appears to be another sweeping executive re-organization of technical leadership similar to the previous executive re-alignment changes. Shai Agassi similarly departed the chief technologist role in 2007 under sudden circumstances. In June 2014 came the announcement that Lars Dalgaard, the board executive with overall charge of SAP’s cloud product strategy at the time, suddenly announced he was departing the company. Shortly after, go-to-market leadership for SAP’s efforts was assumed by Bob Calderoni, the then CEO of Ariba, an SAP Company, but Calderoni has since departed SAP as well.
Regarding other executive leadership announcements, SAP announced that Bernd Leukert, who joined SAP’s Global Managing Board in June of last year, will now assume responsibility for the global development organization. Robert Enslin the head of SAP Sales and Services and the company’s go-to-market teams will now assume responsibility for customer operations and join the company’s Executive Board, along with Leukert.
SAP additionally announced two new appointments to its Global Managing Board. Helen Arnold an 18 year veteran will assume the role of SAP Chief Information Officer (CIO) and lead cloud operations and the SAP Enterprise Cloud, in addition to her current role of managing internal Business Innovations and Application Services. Stephan Reis will lead the company’s human resources efforts.
These executive re-alignment announcements come on the heels of last July’s unexpected announcement that the company’s co-CEO model was to transition into a singular CEO this month, as Bill McDermott assumes singular leadership of SAP. No doubt, Mr. McDermott is probably molding his leadership team moving forward. But in all things related to SAP, internal politics and perceptions often present this form of drama and turmoil.
The timing of these announcements comes prior to SAP’s annual Sapphire and ASUG conference coming up in June and again provides uncertainty as to SAP’s product development and product strategies in the coming months as new leadership once again takes effect. SAP has been taking more of the path toward being a cloud technology or B2B platform company vs. a concentration in business and industry applications.
This steady stream of senior executive turnover is obviously a concern for SAP’s customer base. What happens next is again open to lots of speculation and open questions.
From our lens, SAP has been charting a course that strayed from the firm’s core capabilities in industry specific support in business suite applications, including end-to-end supply chain, manufacturing and product management. The notions for becoming a prime player as a database platform company by offering HANA as a stand-alone platform alternative was difficult to comprehend, providing yet another distraction.
But, our view is not as important as the view of SAP’s current customers, prospects and partners.
At this point, we all need to wait and see what the implications of these latest senior leadership changes imply moving forward.