Sunday, January 18, 2009

SAP's Leo Apotheker on Charlie Rose

Enterprise software is not normally a topic for TV news shows, but Charlie Rose takes on the challenge with his interview of SAP co-CEO Leo Apotheker. I'm not a big fan of Rose, but I think he did a great job getting Apotheker to explain ERP in general to a lay audience.

Some points of interest:
  • Much to the pleasure of Apotheker, Rose positions SAP as the leader in enterprise software, with Oracle attempting to catch up. In the interest of equal time, Rose needs to interview Oracle's Larry Ellison. He's done so in the past, but it's been awhile.

  • Apotheker shows little respect for open source as a business model, claiming SAP engages in open source development with its partners, even though the software they produce is not licensed as such.

  • Apotheker mentions as an aside, that in five years, SAP might be in the hardware business. (Would have loved to see Rose follow up on that one.)

  • Rose asks if sales are tight in the current recession. Apotheker says, not really. And, price is not really a factor in selling enterprise software. (If it were my interview I would have followed up to ask why, then, in competitive deals is SAP so willing to compete aggressively on price?)
There are lots of other interesting points in the interview. I would have loved to see Rose ask about SAP's attempt to raise maintenance fees in a recession and how customers are reacting to that. But Rose is too much of a softball interviewer to take on that subject.

Andrew Mcafee of the Technology and Operations Management Unit at Harvard Business School shares the interview with Apotheker, and makes some great points as well concerning IT for competitive advantage.

Dennis Byron has his take on the interview. Byron Bennett also has a short summary.

Related posts
Layoffs at Oracle, SAP, and Infor
Crack in the dike for SAP maintenance fee hike
IT spending pull-back: SAP warns on Q3 earnings
SAP in expense-cutting mode
SAP maintenance fees: where is the value?
SAP under the spotlight for "broken promises"
Mad as hell: backlash brewing against SAP maintenance fee hike
Pass the Kleenex


R said...


Wonderful summary. As Andrew McAfee has been engaged by SAP to go out on the road with them on different speaking venues, its interesting to see the dynamic. One of the most interesting points comes with 2 minutes to go in the interview. Andrew McAfee talks about how innovation is changing from a very planned and disciplined approach (e.g. SAP) to a very open and loose approach (e.g. crowd sourcing, open source, etc.). For me, that was probably the most interesting point given where enterprise software may be evolving. Check it out and see what you think.

R "Ray" Wang
Vice President
Forrester Research, Inc.

Frank Scavo said...

Ray, you are right. That is a great point that Andrew made, but I missed it. That's why I get for multi-tasking! :-)