Jim Hagemann Snabe, current co-CEO at SAP, has attempted to allay industry concerns that the software giant will lose its renewed focus on product development after he steps down from the role in May.
He said at the UK & Ireland User Group conference in Birmingham this week that his counterpart Bill McDermott, along with other key players in the company, are capable of continuing the recent innovation drive.
User Group chairman Phillip Adams spoke out when Snabe announced his departure to SAP's advisory board that he had been perceived as the 'product guy', whilst McDermott had been the 'sales guy'.
However, Snabe has said that McDermott will not drop the ball and continue to focus on product development.
“Bill has played the sales role because I did the innovation role, but Bill is very strong on the vision of the innovation as well,” Snabe told conference delegates.
“He will be expanding his effort on the innovation side. At the same time [McDermott has focused on America], but he will spend more time in Europe and understand the diversity and opportunity we have in Europe and value that.”
He added: “If you look at three years back we were largely a company run from the sales side, rather than the engineering side. Ten years back the reverse was the case. So when we made our strategy in 2010 it was a commitment around innovation to be the core driver of success in SAP.”
Snabe said that SAP now runs its development with an agile focus, whereby its software cycles are two to four weeks long, whereas previously they had been every 14 months. He believes this has contributed to its recent innovation successes, including SAP's products being reengineered to run on its flagship in-memory platform, HANA.
He also praised Vishal Sikka, who he described as the “father of HANA”, and is now in charge of all development at SAP.
“This idea [innovation] is not going to stop because I stepped down. Leadership is not just about putting a company on track towards success, but it is also about making sure you are no longer needed,” said Snabe.
“If I look at Vishal Sikka who is heading up the entire development force, he is wizard. He can see around corners and he is very deep in his understanding of the impact of technology and the architecture."
“We have also let the engineers from our acquired companies get bigger roles in SAP and with that I feel very good about the engineering capability of the company moving forward," he said.
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