SAP changes its board structure to focus again on product and technology
2009 was a tough year for the whole IT industry but SAP’s performance (-8% in total revenue and -28% in software revenue) was somewhat below the results of many other leading IT companies. The product launch of Business ByDesign is years delayed and clients are still unhappy about the way the new Enterprise Support was introduced. No question, SAP is currently in a difficult situation. At this point SAP announced yesterday that CEO Léo Apotheker’s contract will not be renewed and his resignation is effective immediately. In his place, the company appointed the two board members Jim Hagemann Snabe, responsible for product development and Bill McDermott, in charge of field operations, as co-CEOs.
After 20 years of service with SAP it would not be fair to blame Apotheker, who was certainly instrumental for SAP’s tremendous growth in the past, for the challenges SAP is currently facing. Over several years the company shifted from its traditional strengths, such as products, technology, quality and reliability to a strongly sales driven entity. In fact the whole board of SAP was slowly replaced by a team of pure sales professionals. Product innovation and quality, or customer satisfaction was no longer in the center of corporate strategy, but replaced by sales performance and quotas. In a press and analyst call today Hasso Plattner, Co-Founder of SAP and Chairman of the Supervisory Board, acknowledged that mistakes e.g. with Enterprise Support, were made, but the whole SAP board was involved and it was not Apotheker’s fault.
Forrester had heard rumors of restructuring at SAP before the announcement on February 7th that SAP’s CEO Leo Apotheker has resigned with immediate effect.
The return to joint CEOs with Jim Haggemann-Snabe running product and Bill McDermott running sales is likely to help in focusing on improvements in the field to restore SAP's sales fortunes in a tough market.
As an analyst at Forrester I always look forward to December - not because it's the end of the year or that I have the balance of my vacation days to use up (best laid plans...); December is when we usually get a fresh batch of data from Forrester's annual Enterprise And SMB Software Survey. Each year our team gets to place a few questions into this comprehensive questionnaire, and IT decision makers who have organizational responsibility for custom software development give us some insight into what their shops are doing.
The Attorney General of New York is investigating a large group of online retailers to see if they have been sharing your credit card data with third parties without your knowledge or permission. In a press release, the AG's Office details the scheme, including the fact that you may unknowingly be giving someone other than the retailer you are shopping with your credit card number:
"Information about joining the membership program and its ramifications, including the fact that the consumer is agreeing to transfer his or her credit or debit card account information, is buried in fine print and cluttered text."
My gut tells me that this violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the PCI Data Security Standard. According to the PCI DSS:
"Additionally, merchants and service providers must manage and monitor the PCI DSS compliance of all associated third parties with access to cardholder data."
It is probably safe to assume that the business agreement around the data sharing identified by the New York AG's office did not include language surrounding PCI compliance.
An MSNBC story on the investigation puts it this way:
Interest in case management will climb higher and higher throughout 2010. The drivers are a mix of old and new an include. The most important - there will be an increased need to manage the costs and risks of servicing customer requests — like loans, claims, and benefits. Customer experience has evolved to where fundamentals of the product are secondary. Its now about design and the personality of the experience. I tried to help my daughter buy a car the other day. The Ford Focus didn't make the cut. Why? No lighted mirror. I then knew I was in for a long process.
There is also a greater emphasis on automating and tracking inconsistent "incidents" that do not follow a well-defined process. Does homeland security come to mind? And lots of new pressure on government agencies to respond to a higher number of citizen requests. But this next one is the killer. We will see new demands from regulators, auditors, and litigants on businesses to respond to external regulations. After Bernie "made off" with 50B or so the SEC had an epiphany of sorts. Gee.Lets give the field agents more authority to investigate — and perhaps depoliticize the process. Brilliant. Lets let the folks that actually know the regulatory target actually make decisions. Well. Great. We think this will lead to a ramped up number of investigative inquires and guess what? Each one is best handled as a case where consistent policies, audit trails, and analytics can apply. Lastly, there is the increased use of collaboration and social media to support unstructured business processes.
This was my ninth visit to the World Economic Forum – the global cocktail party/speechathon that brings together a unique mix of CEOs, government leaders, artists, scientists, philanthropists, regulators, and non-profits in Davos Switzerland. Or, as one reporter noted, it was a meeting of the people who have screwed up the world in the last two years.
Here are my quick personal observations. Please excuse the length of this post -- the volume of interesting facts overwhelmed my editing sensibilities.
1) Compared with the gloom of last year, members were far more optimistic and positive about the economy. Most executives I spoke with said that their business began to turn in Q3 and Q4 of 2009 and that their prospects for 2010 were brightening. That said, economists continually highlighted the fragility of the recovery. The head of the IMF said that the discontinuation of stimulus packages will cause the recovery to sputter. He also said that it may take between five and seven years for some countries to return to “normalcy,” whatever that is.
Wireless hacking Guru, Josh Wright,has just announced that he has created havoc with a MiFi personal access point.MiFi is a little device that turns 3G wireless signals into WiFi. The cool thing is that the wireless signal can be shared with other nearby computers. According to Josh, he has found a way that, "An attacker can recover the default password from any MiFi device." This is big news because anyone who is involved with wireless ne
Forrester just kicked-off our first-ever Australian Online Retailing Study. This survey looks at Australian online and multichannel retailers' organizations and topics relevant to the challenges currently facing their roles including: