Two buzzwords have been dominating societal discourse as of late: Resilience and the duty to give reasons. SAP CEO Christian Klein should take them to heart.
Over the past few years, German-speaking SAP user group DSAG has been increasingly requesting resilient, reasonable roadmaps from SAP. The ERP company usually replied with colorful Powerpoint presentations and one-year roadmaps – neither of which were particularly helpful.
We – as customers and as a user group – hope that SAP will help us make our ERP systems as flexible and resilient as they need to be to master the everyday challenges of working life. However, we will never reach adequate levels of resilience if SAP CEO Christian Klein keeps spinning tales that neither of us can make sense of.
I’m talking about his virtual Sapphire keynote where Christian Klein led us through the process of selection, production and delivery of a new car. As far as I know, the SAP CEO was never a car salesman, so who does he want to impress with this story? I’m neither feeling better nor more resilient just because Klein thinks he knows how to sell a car.
Christian Klein’s duty to give reasons
What SAP and its CEO need is the duty to give reasons. Maybe I’d feel a little better if Christian Klein had given a reason as to why he thinks a fictional car sales and production process better prepares SAP customers for digital transformation.
The duty to give reasons is a term in administrative law and a bit uncomfortable in its demand: It obligates informants to verify their stated claims. What applies to judges and lawyers should ultimately also apply to CEOs and management.
For example, it’s still a mystery as to how extended maintenance for Business Suite 7 is supposed to work. To this day, SAP has yet to verify any statements about AnyDB’s availability past 2025 (with the exception of an SAP service note that simply reads that SAP will take care of it). If SAP cannot verify whether or not licenses for DB2, Oracle or SQL server will expire after 2025, the resilience of its customers’ ERP systems will suffer.
DSAG is right in pressing SAP for medium-term and long-term strategies and roadmaps, because a one-year perspective just won’t do. Sapphire keynotes, witty anecdotes and short-term thinking are no foundation for planning reliability or resilience. After years of innovation and growth, Christian Klein should finally fulfill his duty to give reasons.
If Christian Klein corrects SAP’s course towards resilience and more accountability on the ERP company’s part, then a successful future beyond 2025 becomes possible. We customers need every help and support that we can get to master the challenges of digital transformation with S/4 Hana.