SAP announced a new organizational model last week as part of its continued drive toward transformation. The software giant revealed several big leadership and organizational changes as well as a renewed focus on a customer-first and fledgling ONE SAP strategy.

ASUG sat down with Nicola Leske, head of global corporate affairs at SAP, to discuss what these changes mean for customers and to better understand what’s new. To start, SAP Executive Board Members Stefan Ries and Michael Kleinemeier have agreed with the Supervisory Board of SAP SE to leave the company. Ries, who is the chief HR officer and labor relations director, will depart at the end of May 2020, while Kleinemeier, who leads the SAP Digital Business Services, will stay on until April 30, 2020.

According to the SAP news release, co-founder Hasso Plattner said of the two: “Without Stefan and Michael, SAP would not be where it is today. I would like to thank them both for their many years of close collaboration.”

The need for more collaboration as well as integration, however, is the catalyst for these recent changes. “When Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein look at what they want to achieve, customer success is at the very top,” Leske said. “As you know, SAP has grown in the past five years, and as a result, there is overlap. So, there is a need to step back and figure out how to make a better experience for our customers.”

A Customer-Focused Restructure

With Kleinemeier stepping down, SAP Digital Business Services along with sales and any other customer-related organization—including SAP partners—will now be bundled in one new group named “Customer Success.” Taking on a bigger role with SAP and managing this group will be Adaire Fox-Martin.

“This restructure doesn’t mean SAP is changing how it thinks about services,” Leske said. “Instead, it underscores the importance of services and what customers need to be successful.” SAP intends to provide a singular and simplified experience for customers who interact with its sales and services departments. “Adaire is tasked with creating one end-to-end customer journey,” Leske said. “It’s about breaking up silos and boundaries, especially as SAP gets more involved in the cloud world, where change happens even faster.”

Thomas Saueressig will lead product management, development, and product support. And Juergen Muller is tasked with delivering one seamlessly integrated data-management solution, in addition to managing SAP’s overall platform and technology development and intelligent technologies.

“Both teams are really committed to supporting customers in their journey to the intelligent enterprise,” Leske said. Their combined goal is to promote intelligent technologies across functions and to focus on holistic integration. This overall restructuring will benefit SAP customers, according to Leske. “It allows for a seamless experience between product development, sales, and services, all the way through to integration with SAP and non-SAP products,” she added.

What About Qualtrics and CX Products?

Although most of the Cloud Business Group was integrated into the new organizational model, Qualtrics, CX Engineering, CX Product Strategy, and major parts of SAP Concur will remain in their groups for now.

This was a strategic decision by SAP. “Qualtrics is still relatively new, and it’s growing incredibly,” Leske said. “So, for now, Jen and Christian don’t want to disrupt the business or the culture that has made it so successful.”

Even though Qualtrics isn’t folded into one of the three groups mentioned, SAP is dedicated to integrating not only the platform across the SAP portfolio, but also the teams that work across the board. Eric Stine, formerly chief customer innovation officer for SAP, has moved into the role of chief revenue officer for Qualtrics. “We will continue to cross-pollinate and fold Qualtrics into the mix, but for now it will remain independent,” Leske said.

As for the remaining CX suite of products, SAP recently brought in Bob Stutz as president of customer experience, and he is charged with accelerating the development of the CX portfolio. “Bob is very experienced in this space,” Leske said, “and for now we’re going to focus on getting it to where it needs to be, and then we will reassess and decide on a path forward.”

Focused on Six Solution Areas

In addition to the organizational changes, SAP announced six primary solution areas including SAP Customer Experience, SAP S/4HANA, People (SAP SuccessFactors), Intelligent Spend (inclusive of SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, and SAP Concur), SAP HANA and Analytics, and Qualtrics. The SAP Cloud Platform will serve as the underlying technology platform for all these areas.

The SAP board and leadership teams looked to find ways to match solution areas with customer buying centers. “This is aimed to help SAP execute on its goals and to be number one in its target market segments,” Leske said. “It will help SAP provide domain thought leadership internally and externally.”

These solution segments are not new, however. They’ve been a part of the SAP landscape (in some form or fashion) for a while now. “SAP just wanted to look at how to best combine and align them,” Leske said.

Now, each of the six solution segments are paired within the SAP functional board area structure. “It gives us the best of both worlds,” Leske said. “The goal of a functional board area structure is to ensure best-in-class engineering, sales, product management strategy, and solution management support and services across the entire company. With the solution areas, we aim to strengthen customer success across our functions with joint teams that are really focused on specific buying centers.”

Bottom Line: What Do These Changes Mean for You?

When co-CEOs Jennifer Morgan and Christian Kline stepped into their new roles, they both emphasized a focus on customer success and integration. It appears that they are keeping in line with those goals and are now executing their plan.

“Businesses today need innovative tools and technologies but also seamless customer experiences with their technology vendors and partners, so that they can take action when business opportunities arise,” said Geoff Scott, ASUG CEO. “The changes that SAP announced this week are great steps toward smashing down existing silos at SAP and removing complexity and integration challenges, which should provide a more simplified and efficient experience for all SAP customers.”

The bottom line is that SAP says that there are now clear and simple communication channels, a uniform appearance, and transparency in terms of product strategy and integration scenarios. “SAP hears from customers that although they believe in the products, SAP needs to do a better job in being present during the journey to the intelligent enterprise,” Leske said. “Jen and Christian are really focused on changing that both internally and externally.”

ASUG members can join us for discussions like this with ASUG leadership at one of our national or regional ASUG Executive Exchange events near you to network with other executives looking to get more value from their SAP systems.

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