Tim Noble, a senior executive that served as SAP’s UK & Ireland managing director between 2009 and 2011, is being brought back into the position in what is likely to be seen as an attempt to stabilise the role after a turbulent few years.
Noble left the role to take on more responsibility as senior vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, a position he will continue to hold alongside the UK and Ireland job.
Computerworld UK recently reported on Steve Winter stepping down as MD after just six months, only to be replaced by an interim executive based in Paris. Analysts branded SAP’s leadership in the UK as being in a ‘state of flux’ and said that Winter being in the role for such a short time couldn’t be viewed in a positive light.
An SAP spokesperson said: “As a seasoned professional, Tim brings a wealth of experience in his dual capacity as cluster head of EMEA Emerging Markets and managing director of UKI. Before joining SAP, he was senior vice president and executive officer at Gartner with responsibility for the development and execution of the company’s global sales strategy.
“During his 15 years with Gartner, he served in a number of sales and leadership positions. Prior to this, Tim worked for organisations including New Science Associates, and Yourdon International, a subsidiary of Kodak.”
The news has been welcomed by the SAP user group, which claims that it will be easier to resume building on a relationship with Noble, rather than starting afresh with yet another executive.
“We are pleased to welcome Tim Noble back to the role of UK and Ireland MD. It’s good to see that SAP recognises the importance of continuity and consistency in management for its customer base,” said Alan Bowling, chairman UK & Ireland SAP User Group."
He added: “Before Tim left the UK role we’d developed a good working relationship with him and we look forward to building on this. In these turbulent economic times it’s more important than ever to our members that we work closely with SAP to help them drive more from their implementations.”
The announcement has also been welcomed by Duncan Jones, principal analyst at Forrester, who claims that SAP’s problems don’t lie with the UK management, but rather the joint CEO role, which is shared between Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe.
“I have spoken with Tim a few times and always thought he was a smart guy who had a customer-centric view. I don’t see anything overly negative by this appointment, I think they have got a good leader in him,” said Jones.
“The challenge for SAP is that it is schizophrenic – you have got the Snabe SAP and the McDermott SAP, which gives it this schizophrenic personality. Snabe has got product vision and customer value, but then you have got McDermott’s sale side that wants money and wants it now.”
He added: “Sometimes this causes problems for customers because they want to have a long term partnership with SAP, but SAP sometimes pushes a bit too hard for income to make their revenue targets, which has nothing to do with delivering value.”
“I don’t think Tim Noble is like that – I think he has more of a long-term approach that takes into account customer satisfaction and managing goals. I think it is a positive move bringing him back.”