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Technology / AI and automation

Reaction to Vishal Sikka’s departure from SAP

The man responsible for SAP’s business-boosting HANA platform has announced his resignation.

Vishal Sikka’s departure, "for personal reasons", according to the German ERP giant, marks the end of 12 years with the company.

It comes at a time when the firm is trying to become the lead on all things enterprise cloud-related, with the business recently delaying its operating margin target by two years in order to invest more heavily in cloud.

The resignation also comes in the same month as Jim Hagemann-Snabe is set to vacate his position of co-CEO.

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This long-announced departure has nevertheless provoked fears among users of whether soon-to-be sole CEO Bill McDermott will have the chops to be the new ‘product guy’ – traditionally Snabe’s role.

Sikka is credited with the in-memory database platform HANA that reinvented SAP, and which has subsequently underpinned the firm’s fastest growing sector, cloud.

With that in mind, McDermott has announced a reshuffle, appointing Robert Enslin and Bernd Leukert to the company’s board.

A blog post by the firm says this is "in order to advance the technology industry’s most successful transition to the cloud."

Enslin will continue to lead global customer operations and Leukert will assume responsibility for the global development organisation.

Here’s some expert reaction on the possible consequences and areas of focus for SAP:

Philip Adams, chairman of the UK and Ireland SAP User Group:

"It’s a shame to see Vishal leaving SAP, especially with Jim Hagemann Snabe soon to step down as Co-CEO. From a customer point of view, both of them have done a great deal to deliver both innovation and customer value.

"SAP is clearly going through a management transition and we look forward to working with Robert Enslin and Berd Leukert as they settle into their new roles. We also hope that the new executive team, along with the supervisory board will continue to keep balance of focus between innovation, customer value and sales."


Sunil Padmanabh, research director at Gartner India

"Sikka was Hasso’s blue-eyed boy. How could he be allowed to go when there is no succession plan, no secondline visionary?

"SAP users were seeing a lot of product enhancements, cutting edge work. Sikka was a visionary and instrumental in integrating the product suite, especially contributing to the increasing adoption of SAP HANA."

(From Times of India)

Vijay Vijayasankar, former SAP executive

As a friend, I think this is a good thing for him to do. It was a big job with a lot of stress . He could use a breather before his next adventure . For a man of his caliber , there is no dearth of opportunity in this world.

What HANA needs is a set of apps – and Bernd’s pedigree is all on apps side . He has Bjoern Goerke and other leaders to take care of technology. I am a tad surprised Bjoern didn’t get into Managing Board – but I am sure it’s just a matter of time . So I think SAP board did the right thing in picking Bernd to be Vishal’s successor . I do expect to see some "thought leadership" cues from Bernd (and probably Bjoern too) at Sapphirenow Orlando on how he sees SAP evolve.

It’s not enough to build apps – it needs to fit into the "we are a profitable cloud company" message, which probably needs a renewed focus on mobile business too .

(From his blog post)
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