Vishal has left SAP – and despite the abrupt nature of his exit , he has given the company a lot to work on . In a few weeks from now, Bill will be sole CEO and he gets a great set of leaders in the board and in the top ranks of the company . I think this is a perfect moment for the company to disrupt itself and gain some significant momentum .
In no particular order , here are my suggestions .
1. Split the company into two – apps and platforms – and assign them to two divisional heads with P&L responsibility
If SAP is to become a great platform company (it’s already a great apps company) – it needs specific focus . Platform is a nebulous term – but for true greatness, SAP needs to play in more layers of the IT stack . Similarly – apps that were created decades ago need to evolve without being constrained by pace of platform evolution . For the “cloud company powered by Hana” to be a reality – both apps and platform business need cloud as a vital component .
2. Go make some bold acquisitions
Look at BI and middleware from SAP for example . They have large install bases – but they are a bit tired . Surely some of the innovation can be done organically – like how Lumira started . But SAP doesn’t have time to just build all the way . They need to make bold acquisitions quickly on both platform and apps side .
3. Sunset products with limited upside
SAP has built and bought a lot of stuff over the years . There are many products (not naming them because people who run them are friends that I don’t want to offend ) that have low adoption or no clear forward path . Those products need to be sunset (or migrated to something new ) and investment redirected to new areas. And this will help field sales and customers quite a bit too in eliminating confusion .
4. Double down on business suite and BI integration
It’s really SAP’s sweet spot . Yet – there is very little actual integration between Business suite and BI platform . CRM has some embedded BI as I remember , but the whole “insight to action” thing never totally materialized . I hope that Leukert and Reh can fix this with the right partnership between the apps team and BI team . This game is SAP’s to lose .
5. Renew the focus of product management
SAP has always had great engineering abilities . Product management needs attention in my opinion – and probably could use some external hiring to compliment the in-house talent . I would also go one step more and say that PM should be closer to the Customer organization than to engineering . All innovation is customer driven – if PM gets more customer exposure , it can only accelerate innovation .
6. On platform side, become more channel and open source friendly
As much as SAP has great technology at its disposal , reality is that there is hardly a customer that can survive with as SAP technology alone . So it is a must that SAP actively increases the openness of its platform and connect to other technologies . I am not naive to think that Hana itself will now be open sourced – but it is worth considering for medium to long term .
Similarly – SAP could make more use of channel partners . With Rodolpho being put in charge – I have a good feeling that channel will get to be an important part of SAP business . There are plenty of products in SAP portfolio that could be sold through channel alone I would think