Last week, SAP SE announced changes to its high-level Executive Board which from our lens, provides evidence of changing strategies, business focus and possible succession planning in the months to come. An important insight to the meaning of these moves is likely the title of the press release: “SAP Promotes Proven Leaders to Strengthen the Company.” (our bolding)

According to the announcement, two existing senior executives, Robert Enslin and Bernd Leukert now have expanded leadership portfolios and likely additional oversight over the integration of SAP’s Cloud-based technology strategies. In addition, the Supervisory Board of SAP has named two other executives to be new members of the Executive Board.

Enslin, the head of Global Customer Operations, was designated to be president of the new Cloud Business Group which will oversee SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, Concur, SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Hybris and the SAP SMB Solutions Group organizations.  That obviously implies singular leadership and accountability of all of SAP’s prior Cloud-based acquisitions in addition to the SMB business. Enslin has consistently been a rising executive star in the SAP sales organization and a long-time confidant of CEO Bill McDermott who also rose from the field leadership ranks. By our lens, the move most likely implies more consistent and focused go-to-market and selling strategies across the entire SAP Cloud portfolio as well as stepped-up efforts for strategic integration of technology components.

Leukert, a 23-year veteran of SAP and prior CTO and head of Products and Innovation now has an expanded leadership portfolio to accelerate “SAP’s platform and digital transformation strategy.” SAP describes Leukert’s responsibilities to include the entire technological foundation of all of SAP’s products as well as application development for lines of business. In addition, Leukert heads strategic innovation and new growth opportunities in areas such as Internet of Things (IoT), Industry 4.0, and SAP S/4HANA. He is also responsible for leading design and user experience for all SAP applications. Our readers might be interested to know that Leukert once had SAP supply chain development experience serving as vice president for installed base development in supply chain management, including in-memory database technologies in 2011. Since 2011, he has been responsible for development of SAP Business Suite and the SAP Business One application. In other words, he has been the go-to executive for addressing and coalescing technical development strategies during his tenure.

In conjunction with these latest technical leadership moves, SAP Cloud Platform executive Bjoern Goerke was appointed to be CTO for SAP, reporting to Leukert. According to the announcement, Goerke will be tasked with advancing the company’s technology strategy and serve as a key external spokesperson.

The fill the void created by Enslin’s singular leadership of the Cloud Business unit, SAP named two female senior executives, Adaire Fox-Martin, and Jennifer Morgan, to the Executive Board. From our lens, these are long overdue moves to balance out a traditionally male-dominated leadership body. However, the Executive Board’s prior track record with female co-leaders has not been all that stellar, and we trust that will change with these latest moves. Both executives are noted in co-presidency roles of Global Customer Operations, overseeing all SAP regions. Fox-Martin will oversee EMEA and Greater China while Morgan will oversee the Americas and Asia-Pacific-Japan regions.

Those that are familiar with SAP sales organizations probably know that it can at times, be a stressful and competitive environment, thus two female executives rising to the Executive Board is a good sign. Consider that McDermott originally cut his teeth in leading SAP’s North America and then Americas field groups.

An additional move was current EMEA President Franck Cohen appointed to the role of Chief Commercial Officer to lead SAP’s channel business

Steve Singh, president of Business Networks and Applications, who came to SAP with the Concur Technologies acquisition will leave SAP at the end of this month. Singh will reportedly return to his start-up roots outside of SAP.

These executive changes come just prior to SAP’s report of Q1 financial performance and of annual SAP Sapphire and ASUG customer conference held in May.

Similar to last year, SAP customers can likely anticipate another round of unifying messages centered on more cohesive technology adoption strategies, easier means to adopt SAP applications and technology, and perhaps a clearer articulation of business and technology strategy moving forward, especially concerning SAP S4/HANA.

The key for customers and supply chain technology teams is to key-in on these two specific executives with the broadest portfolios as to their stated goals and actions now and in the months to come.

Bob Ferrari

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