Ex SAP CTO becomes CEO of Infosys

So how often does a CTO become CEO? Well not often it would seem in the case of SAP.

On 4 May 2014 Dr. Vishal Sikka, Executive Board Member for Products and Innovation, announced his departure from the Executive Board for personal reasons, effective immediately….and just 39 days later it was announced that Vishal becomes CEO of Infosys from August 1st.  It had been mooted that Vishal was a future SAP CEO in the making.

Back in 2007 another rising star Shai Agassi, also responsible for technology and execution at SAP and also mooted to be next in line to head SAP  departed suddenly following the extension of the then current CEO  Henning Kaggerman.

So the moral of the story is …if you want to be CEO of SAP don’t come through the technology and innovation route!

 

New CEO brings changes…..why are people acting surprised?

So in the next couple of weeks a new CEO brings a lot of management changes at SAP. But what is all the surprise and concern all about in the press?

A change  at the top always brings change to any organisation, so why should any change at SAP be expected to be any different? What is important is what does that change bring and how does it effect all the stakeholders. Let’s analyse what we know. From my perspective as one of SAP’s customers – change is only a concern if it brings change that impacts them adversely. As a customer those are things like higher costs, lower service, lower quality and directions that generate conflict with their individual business direction and strategy.

Costs – as an existing customer are they seeing increases?  At first you might think not, but actually yes a lot of them are with the gradual increase to Enterprise and Standard support – but this has been in place since 2008 and can’t be pinned on the new singular CEO as this started before his reign. In fact he has publicly stated that he has to effect change without impacting his loyal customer base – but maybe he should effect change by impacting customers and stopping any further rises now – that would be perceived as a positive gesture by the loyal base.

Lower service? Already SAP offer an SLA for Severity 1 support activities – as far as I know, still the only software vendor to do that – and certainly the only one to offer a full suite of products support organisation in their singular AGS team. In fact with the Customer connection program a further strengthening of the support offerings. Will a new CEO change that? Wouldn’t have thought so given how that immediately touches existing customers and with nothing to indicate so, as the solid leadership in this area remains active and intact.

Quality lower? Not aware of any immediate indication of that, and in very simple terms – those that are there today who do the delivery of products and services remain in place. Lay-offs in this cadre of the organisation isn’t apparent and certainly isn’t on the cards at the moment – in fact with the new CEO moving with family to the heart of the operation in Germany (not an insignificant undertaking) a sign to the contrary at this stage.

Change in direction? Well actually there is change in direction – but this isn’t a surprise, mobile, cloud and in memory. This is not new it started with Sybase, and was complemented by Successfactors, Hana and Ariba over a number of years – what is new is the increased determination to deliver this direction, but again a clear statement not at the expense of the existing customer base. That reflects an awareness of the way these directions can be adopted by customers – that in the new cloud and mobile based era we live in,  the whole premise is easy adoption and an almost seamless connectivity of business processes, whilst maintaining options for flexibility, scalability and rate of adoption.

For the new CEO there is a challenge – what differentiates SAP from it’s competitors? The reality, in all the areas there are competitors, the “me-too” products are out there.

I would offer some thoughts. To succeed a business needs to offer difference that it’s customers want and can digest. For any customer to improve its market positioning there are only three things a business can do, cost less, sell more or charge more. In today’s competitive market to charge more is just not an option anymore (even Apple are realising that) so that leaves cost less and sell more. So any offering from anybody offering something, be it software or food products has to entertain those two deliverables. A great example here is the current rumblings of, in fact, food retailing in the UK marketplace so long the domain of the big 5 retailers, where the new upstarts of Aldi, Lidl and Netto are costing less and selling more and more, disrupting the market place in a way that has permanent benefits for them and their new customers. Even Apple have looked inwardly and done the same with the two versions of their series 5 iPhone to try to safeguard their market position.

At the end of the day the choice will come down to the leadership within SAP and the decisions they make – let’s hope they make the correct ones!

2013 Conference – selling very well!

Get in quick to get your tickets. If your supplier or SAP partner is exhibiting or an affiliate member contact them to see if they have a discount code arranged before booking.

Apart from the excellent conference sessions (especially looking forward to Jim Snabe and Mandy Hickson), the Gala Dinner and Evening will be the best we have ever run to celebrate 25 years of success and growth as a User Group.

NOTE: The main conference hotel – the Birmingham Crowne Plaza has sold out already – still spaces in other affiliate hotels.

conf 2013

The new User Group blog

As you may know my tenure as chairman of the UK & Ireland User Group recently ended with the ‘baton’ now in the capable hands of Philip Adams.  While I will remain heavily involved with the User Group and will continue to blog here on the Sapusers blog (when time allows!), I heartily recommend you check out the new User Group blog.

The new blog will be the place to find all the latest User Group news and updates about the 2013 User Conference, which promises to be our best yet!

Fighting Fraud with SAP

SAP recently announced its new Fraud Management tool, an analytics application designed to help users improve fraud scenario analysis and adapt to changing fraud patterns. By using this to execute complex analytics on big data sets, using in-memory computing and other advanced processing techniques, the tool is designed to help SAP users better prevent fraud .

Currently in “controlled” (limited) release, the final version is expected to come in three initial flavours of Fraud Management: an insurance claims fraud offering, another designed for use in the public sector and a cross-industry application (for use in, for instance, the purchasing function). It’s certainly true that fraud is a pervasive risk in businesses:  according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the typical organisation is at risk of losing up to five per cent of its revenues to fraud. If that figure sounds surprising, it’s even more so to hear that that this translated to a total global fraud loss of more than $3.5 trillion in 2011. While not all of this fraud may be addressable, it’s clear that the cost of fraud can add up for businesses in many sectors.

Here at the User Group we await to hear more about the product ahead of its final release later in the year.  If you are an SAP user wanting to find out about the latest product updates network with your peers, please check out our current calendar of webinars and SIGS taking place throughout 2013.

Going Mobile

At Mobile World Congress last month in Barcelona, SAP made a number of announcements concerning mobility.  Here is a roundup of some of the notable ones:

SAP announced the launch of its new Mobile Documents app, an enterprise-level app which gives users a single point of access to files and file-sharing capability from any mobile device. When combined with SAP Afaria for mobile device management, it promises to provide businesses with a complete system for securing mobile devices, apps and content.

In addition, SAP also announced a new partnership with Ericsson, which aims to jointly market and sell their cloud-based, Machine to Machine (M2M) solutions and services to enterprises through operators. The aim is to help enhance enterprise efficiency in business processes such as maintenance, remote service, inventory, logistics and road transport management, vending and customer experience management. Clare McCarthy at Ovum noted that, “The solution already has endorsements from Telenor and 3UK, so it is clearly fulfilling a market need.”

SAP even went as far integrating its take on Near Field Communications (NFC) technology into a vending machine to show how users can purchase soft drinks with NFC-compliant devices. Indeed it seems like we have only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes what we can do with mobile applications!

Mobility will again be a big topic at this year’s User Group Conference, so make sure you sign up to take advantage of the current early bird offers.

No need to be disappointed that Sapphire Now is cancelled

We recently heard the news that Sapphire Now 2013 is being cancelled in Europe. It’s a shame that SAP has decided not to host its annual event, as many users have found it a good forum to hear the latest from SAP senior management. However SAP did instead announce a ‘renewed focus on dedicated customer-centric events’ for its 2013 strategy, alongside plans to expand its SAP Forum events in order to compensate for the loss of Sapphire. Hopefully we’ll hear more about these soon.  However, the good news for UK&I User Group members is that we have SAP’s co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe confirmed as a keynote speaker at our User Conference in Birmingham this November.  

It looks like this is going to be the biggest year yet for the conference as we move to the ICC for the first time. We’ll be providing users in the UK and Ireland with the opportunity to hear from SAP’s experts and its partners on the latest innovations, with over 70 breakout sessions on a wide range of topics. At the same time, users will have the chance to network with peers and speak to them regarding how they are using SAP technology. Remember there are some cracking early bird deals at the moment, only available if you book early, saving up to £300 per person.

For more information about the SAP User Group conference, click here.

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