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March 2, 2010

SAP CEOs show united front at CeBit

“We want customers to love us again”

By Vinod

SAP’s new co-CEOs took to the stage at the CeBit trade fair to outline the future for the enterprise software juggernaut and assure customers that there was a unified team at the helm.

This wasn’t an occasion for product specifics, more for communicating the company’s broad aims: to grow profits, innovate and help customers grow their businesses.

We want our customers to love us again, said co-CEO Bill McDermott in his first public appearance alongside co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe.

Keen to put a full stop after the company’s recent turmoil, which include Leo Apotheker’s resignation last month as CEO, maintenance tussles with customers and the false start of its on-demand Business ByDesign suite, McDermott, was upbeat about the future: “We think the best days of SAP are ahead of us.”

On the profit side, the goal is return to double-digit growth when the macro-economic climate allows, but for 2010 SAP is forecasting a more modest increase of 4-8% and an improvement in operating margins of 30-31%.

The CEO duo were particularly eager to promote the company’s strength in innovation, an area where it has been criticised in the past for failing to listen to customer requirements.

“It’s about scaling creative solutions into the market and that’s what SAP can do. You need two things to do that: build the right solutions and technology for the market and secondly build them the right way,” said co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe.

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The on-demand Business ByDesign software was seen as centre to these innovation plans. “Business ByDesign has significant opportunities for SAP and the ecosystem. It’s a market that is to a large extent untapped and we’re building a complete solution for them [customers] – a suite,” said Hagemann Snabe.

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