In mid-October, I blogged about an e-mail top SAP executives sent internally that instructed all SAP employees to adhere to the following mandate: “Do not order any new IT equipment at this time.” Software was included in the mix. The edict was listed among several other cost-cutting measures.
I pointed out the presumptive irony of the e-mail, since SAP’s marketing arm would surely start flooding the marketplace with, “This is when great companies invest in SAP software to beat the competition!” advertisements. I wondered: Was this a message (“Do not order any new IT equipment at this time”) that SAP execs would want their customers to adhere to as well? I felt, at the time, that the impending hypocrisy was noteworthy.
Not everyone agreed with me. I was taken to task by several CIO.com readers (anonymous cowards!) for my “sarcastic remarks.” “Author is clueless” wrote one commenter. Another accused me of having no objectivity, stating that the blog was written out of “just plain jealousy” or (even worse) because I was simply ignorant of the importance of cost-cutting measures in the horrific economic environment. I was also encouraged to find “a job with Oracle and the like.”
On cue, SAP has flexed its marketing muscle, and the message has been wholly unsurprising. Here’s one: SAP Helps Customers Weather the Economic Cycle.
SAP even trotted out Co-CEO Leo Apotheker in late November to appear on a panel discussion. Guess what the topic was? “Why Investing in IT Makes Sense in Troubled Times.” I kid you not.
But I particularly liked the 6-minute SAP TV video: “IT Industry and the Economic Crisis.” Here’s the setup: “Until now the IT industry was a safe haven in difficult economic times. But the current financial crisis seems to be hitting the sector hard. Is this the end of the golden age? Experts say ‘no!'” (I love the exclamation point.)
In the video, SAP asks three experts their opinion on what companies should do with IT during an economic downturn. “It seems to be to the nature of mankind to overreact in times like this,” says Claudia Funke, a director at McKinsey & Company in Germany. (Sound familiar? Would an order to not buy any new IT equipment qualify as an over-reaction?) There are more pieces of advice for companies in the video that, when taken with SAP’s new mantra, seem almost comical.
Listen, I’m not saying SAP should stop marketing and advertising. Far from it. I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy. And, for sure, SAP isn’t the only tech vendor trying to push the innate value of their wares in this dismal economic environment. I get several pitches every day: Economy, Tightening Budgets Drive Interest In Storage-As-a-Service. How Companies Are Coping with the Economy Using IT Solutions. The ROI of Adopting Business Intelligence Technology in a Down Economy. Optimizing Current Business Software For Cost Savings.
In the SAP video, the ominous-sounding person doing the voice-overs leaves the viewer with this thought: “All experts agree on one thing: Times of turbulence in the economy are often the best times to make investments and gain marketshare.”
There’s a shocker. I just wonder why SAP isn’t taking a dose of its own marketing medicine.