by Thomas Wailgum

Buzz Killington Visits SAP

Feb 12, 2010
Enterprise Applications

Like the buzz-killing Family Guy character, SAP has lost touch with the times--and customers aren't laughing.

“‘Twas not a good fortnight for that going concern SAP.” -Buzz Killington

That’s what I imagine Buzz Killington would say, regarding SAP’s recent corporate exploits and executive departures. For those not familiar with the hit TV show Family Guy, Buzz Killington is a fictitious and well-heeled British gent from the 19th century who sours events with his mere presence.

Buzz Killington Family Guy

“He is what one would imagine to be ‘cool’ in late 19th-century times,” states his Family Guy wiki page, “but is a complete and utter buzz-kill by modern standards; hence his name, and whence the humor surrounding him derives.”

Buzz Killington’s entire aura accurately sums up SAP’s 2009 results and the early returns on 2010: out of date, out of touch and out of time.

The inevitable, high-level resignations and game of musical chairs that occurred at SAP during the past couple of weeks serve to show that SAP’s even-higher-level leadership has finally realized that the ERP vendor faces a wee bit of trouble. A change in CEO and a board-level shake-up were necessary first steps.

Now what?

SAP watchers, enterprise software analysts and other assorted SAP hanger-ons are left with only speculation, because SAP’s future—its strategy for success, its roadmap for its software development, its level of devotion to satisfying its customers—is in flux. Change is in the air, for sure. As Forrester Research’s Paul Hamerman notes in a blog post: “One thing that is clear is that SAP is committed to changing its meandering direction. Failure to do so will result in a loss in market value and eventual acquisition.”

But competitors have already started pointing fingers at SAP’s self-inflicted wounds and managerial turmoil. Analysts have openly speculated whether SAP will be acquired and who will be the acquirer. And customers have locked down their ERP spending.

Yet perhaps we are all prematurely writing off SAP luminary Hasso Plattner and his cohorts. Executive shake-ups are not uncommon events.

Then again, it’s foolish to understate the gravity of SAP’s precarious situation. On Family Guy, Buzz Killington’s arrival typically produces laborious groans, sighs of boredom and a general malaise among those unfortunate enough to find themselves in his presence.

SAP execs better watch out: Customers are starting to seem a little tired of SAP’s same old rhetoric.

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