Is SAP serious about CX? You bet, and here’s why

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The News

SAP flexes its muscles. Bob Stutz returns to SAP as the new president of the CX group. In this role he becomes the successor of Alex Atzberger who held this role since January 2018, himself succeeding Carsten Thoma. In his new role Bob will report directly to Co-CEO Jennifer Morgan.

The Bigger Picture

Bob Stutz certainly is one of the creators of CRM, where Paul Greenberg is its godfather. He was instrumental to the success of Siebel, the company that basically created the industry and dominated the market in the early days of the millennium, till the company got acquired by Oracle.

From there, Bob moved on to SAP in 2005, with the objective of making a successful business unit out of SAP CRM.



Which he did. With CRM 7, released towards the end of 2007, he and his team created a very competitive product, functionally, and from a usability point of view.

He also, with CRM on Demand, laid the foundation for an SAP move into the cloud. Not entirely successful, that one, as it the whole architecture was not cloud orientated, but it was the first step into the right direction. And an important one, as the whole market, led by Salesforce, went for the cloud.

It was a hard transition; believe me, I was there.

By then, Salesforce was hot on the heels of the then market leader SAP, with Oracle and Microsoft making themselves heard as well, Oracle hampering itself with the transition to Fusion and Microsoft at the start of its journey that created Dynamics.

His tenure ended in 2010. He moved on to Hewlett Packard before joining Microsoft as the head for Dynamics CRM, again with the job of creating a winning product.

Which he did.

Before moving on to Salesforce, first heading the analytics cloud, if memory serves and then becoming the CEO of the marketing cloud and chief analytics officer. Here he, again, was instrumental in making a CRM product line a success.

Bob Stutz is a leader with a passion (and track record) of turning a promising underdog into a category leader.

And now he is back at SAP.

My Analysis and PoV

Bob Stutz is a person who cannot, likely doesn’t want to and surely doesn’t need to hide his military background. He combines vision with execution, looks at his job from many angles and then attacks it following three guiding principles that are important in the military, too: The solution must be effective, that one is obvious. It must be simple, so it will be well understood. And it must be efficient. That is the same for his organizations, too (which was difficult for SAP to implement back in the day).



This enables him to get things done.

However, there is a challenge to it. His direct approach doesn’t only create friends.

Since SAP entered the CRM market back in 1998 the company mostly treated CRM as a kind of step child. In the early days there was lots of struggle by the R/3 groups, but then, when SAP puts itself behind an objective, it is a formidable force. This could be seen when SAP hired Bob the first time at a time when SAP’s CRM business was likely to tank. When he left, CRM became less successful again, for several reasons.

It took the company almost seven years to become successful in the CRM market again, partly because of a good implementation strategy, and partly because of finding an interesting story with customer experience extending the story of the intelligent enterprise. The branding move from SAP Hybris – which was a great brand to take advantage of in the early days – to Customer Experience Suite with industry standard cloud names would have been kind of brilliant, if not for the HANA suffix that still stays alive. But boring industry standard cloud names like sales cloud, service cloud, marketing cloud are just the way to go. Be it only because this is what people look for when not being in the SAP fold.

And one of the most important reasons is a successful acquisition strategy with Hybris, Gigya, Callidus, Coresystems (here only some IP) and Qualtrics being the big items, and some smaller ones, too – think Recast.ai, just to give one example.

One can say, SAP has gone full circle since end of 2004.

And with that we have some good reasons why SAP and Bob Stutz are a perfect match again.

  • The story around customer (and user) experience extending the intelligent enterprise that needs to be told is available, but it isn’t really told yet, at least not consistently. SAP has strong analyst relations and an even stronger partner network, which could – and would love to – help around this topic.
  • As a result of its acquisitions, SAP now has a number of solutions that need to be integrated. This is very hard work, especially in the light of a multi-cloud strategy that works across hyper scaling IaaS vendors.
  • Although most CX solutions are good, there needs to be a lot of attention to detail. And taking the marketing cloud as an example, it has quite some strengths, but could do better with a closer look at what marketeers are doing day by day. Combine this with a more reliable roadmap communication brings a winner
  • Related to the intelligent enterprise story there is the actual uncertainty about how S/4 and C/4 (here we are with naming) actually complement each other or where the boundary between the two really is.

With hiring Bob Stutz again, after making the CX numbers more transparent in the financial reporting, SAP shows just how serious the company is about this line of business. After all CRM software is also now the largest sector of enterprise software.

The foundation is there, and although he didn’t only make friends at SAP, now the leader is there, to execute on SAP’s ambition.



A rocky ride lies ahead – for SAP and for its competition.

I’d actually love to participate in it …

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