Will SAP Fall Victim To The Innovator's Dilemma? – Thoughts From SAPPHIRE NOW 2010

TECH DEVELOPMENTS: I have been re-reading Clayton M. Christensen’s The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail in preparation for a session that Chris Mines and I are running on adapting to the Next Big Thing at Forrester’s IT Forum 2010.*  Last week, I attended SAP’s SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Orlando, listened to co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe, and met with McDermott along with other Forrester colleagues.  The juxtaposition of the book and the event caused me to wonder: is SAP like one of the highly successful companies in Christensen’s book that failed to adapt to disruptive technologies?  As Christensen noted, “the managers of the companies studied here had a great track record in understanding customers’ future needs, identifying which technologies could best address those needs, and in investing to develop and implement them.” 

Everything that McDermott and Snabe said was consistent with these characteristics.  They talked about how companies were facing a world of mobile, empowered customers; their need to be connected with each other to optimize the value chain through to the end consumer; the desire for new process flows; and the importance to them of fast decision-making.  They identified a combination of on-premise, on-demand, and on-device solutions that SAP will be offering to meet these needs.  They discussed SAP’s investments and new offerings in these areas, including its acquisition of Sybase for its mobile solutions and real-time analytics capabilities. 

Read more