Can Christian Klein overhaul SAP’s ageing business model?
柯睿安能否彻底改变SAP日渐老化的商业模式?

按下重启键 Hitting the reset button-书迷号 shumihao.com“COUNT ON US, hold us accountable and together we will reinvent the way businesses run.” Thus ends a recent letter of support from 337 senior managers at SAP, a maker of business software, to Christian Klein, their chief executive. In April Mr Klein, then a stripling 39 years old, took over as sole boss of Europe’s biggest technology firm, after running it for a few months in tandem with Jennifer Morgan, an American who used to helm SAP’s business across the Atlantic. He needs all the love he can get, for SAP faces a challenge.
“信赖我们,向我们问责,齐心协力,我们将重塑公司的运营方式。”这是商业软件公司SAP的337名高级主管最近写给CEO柯睿安(Christian Klein)的一封支持信的结尾。今年4月,不过39岁的柯睿安成为这家欧洲最大的科技公司唯一的老板。之前几个月,他与曾掌管公司美洲区业务的美国人詹妮弗·摩根(Jennifer Morgan)联合执掌SAP。在SAP面临挑战之际,任何支持对他来说都弥足珍贵。

Mr Klein became CEO at the peak of covid-19’s first wave. It had hurt SAP more than other tech firms: many of its biggest clients, such as carmakers and energy companies, were temporarily hit by the pandemic. And it struck as more rivals were vying for swathes of the business-software market that the German giant used to rule.
柯睿安成为CEO之时正值第一波新冠疫情的高峰期。疫情对SAP的打击超过了其他科技公司,因为它的许多大客户,比如汽车制造商和能源公司,一时之间都受到了疫情的重创。而且,疫情来袭之时,更多竞争对手正对这家德国巨头曾经统领的商业软件市场的大片领域展开争夺。

Then, in October, Mr Klein was humbled when he presented changes to SAP’s business model that would depress margins in the short run and delay earlier revenue and profit targets by two years. Combined with lacklustre results for the third quarter, the news shaved 22% off the firm’s share price, wiping out €35bn ($41bn) in market value, the sharpest drop in 21 years and almost unheard of for a firm of SAP’s size (see top chart). The purchase of almost €250m in SAP shares the following day by Hasso Plattner, chairman of the supervisory board, who co-founded the company 48 years ago, did not reassure investors.
之后,柯睿安在10月遇挫,当时他提出改变SAP的商业模式,这在短期内会降低利润,并使原定的收入和利润目标推迟两年实现。消息一出,加上第三季度表现平平的业绩,公司股价随即下跌22%,市值蒸发350亿欧元(410亿美元),创21年来的最大跌幅,这在SAP这种规模的公司中几乎闻所未闻(见图表上半部)。次日,SAP监事会主席、在48年前与他人联合创办了SAP的哈索·普拉特纳(Hasso Plattner)购买了近2.5亿欧元的公司股票,但还是没能让投资者放下心来。

To regain their confidence Mr Klein must improve SAP’s offering in the cloud, and persuade more of its clients to move there. And he needs to do this while fending off competition from firms such as Oracle, Salesforce and Workday in America, SAP’s biggest market.
为了重新赢得投资者的信心,柯睿安必须提升SAP的云服务,并说服更多客户迁移到云端。在做这些事情的同时,他还要在美国这个SAP最大的市场上抵御来自甲骨文、Salesforce和Workday等公司的竞争。

The pandemic has softened demand for “enterprise resource planning” (ERP) software, which firms use to manage their everyday operations—and which has long been SAP’s forte. It has also prompted SAP’s existing clients, typically large or medium-sized manufacturers, to rethink their ERP processes. “I never had so many calls from CEOs who wanted to talk about supply chains,” says Mr Klein. Retailers and manufacturers asked SAP for tools to get more visibility of their suppliers. Critically, many of them demanded that ERP, which has traditionally resided on firms’ own servers, be moved to the cloud instead.
企业用来管理日常运营的“企业资源规划”(ERP)软件一直是SAP的强项。但疫情减少了企业对ERP的需求。疫情还促使SAP的现有客户(通常是大中型制造商)重新审视自己的ERP流程。“我从未接到过这么多CEO打来电话,想谈谈供应链的问题。”柯睿安表示。零售商和制造商请求SAP提供工具以加强对供应商的了解。最重要的是,很多客户要求把一般都安装在自己服务器上的ERP迁移到云端。

SAP is very late to the cloud, where companies have been progressively moving for the past 20 years, says Liz Herbert of Forrester Research, a consulting firm. Oracle, which also embarked on the transition belatedly, has done so swiftly. So has Microsoft, the world’s biggest software-maker, with ambitions to expand its enterprise offerings. By contrast, SAP remains more of a hybrid. It has moved a chunk of its business to the cloud but many big customers still use its software on their premises.
过去20年里企业一直在逐步向云端转型,而SAP在这方面起步很晚,咨询公司Forrester Research的利兹·赫伯特(Liz Herbert)表示。同样起步迟缓的甲骨文迅速实现了转型;全球最大的软件公司微软也一样,并且雄心勃勃地想要扩展自己的企业云服务。相比之下,SAP仍然更像一个混合体。它已经将自己的一大块业务迁移到云端,但仍有许多大客户依旧在它们自己的服务器上使用它的软件。

Why the dithering? Shifting complex, customised end-to-end ERP processes to the cloud is much harder than uploading human resources, sales or customer-relationship management, Mr Klein explains. And ERP remains SAP’s bread and butter: it controls 21% of the market, according to Gartner, a research firm, compared with 11% for Oracle, its closest competitor (see bottom chart). A whopping 92% of Fortune 500 companies—from carmakers, like BMW, to defence firms, such as Lockheed Martin—use SAP software. It therefore cannot get the transition wrong. SAP listened to its customers and took a methodical approach, says an executive at a rival software firm, whereas the market wants it to move fast and break things.
SAP为什么如此踌躇?柯睿安解释说,将复杂的、按客户需求定制的端对端ERP流程转移到云端,比上传人力资源、销售或客户关系管理等数据要困难得多。而ERP仍是SAP的主要收入来源:根据研究公司高德纳(Gartner)的数据,它控制了该市场21%的份额,而最接近的竞争对手甲骨文的份额为11%(见图表下半部)。从宝马之类的汽车制造商到洛克希德·马丁之类的国防公司,财富500强中多达92%的公司使用SAP软件。因此它的转型不容闪失。一位对手软件公司的高管说,SAP听取了客户的意见,采用有条不紊的方法,但市场却希望它迅速行动,打破陈规。

Even so, says Mr Klein, “covid was clearly an inflection point.” Bosses of big firms who may have waited another five years before switching to the cloud now want to speed up. They are also demanding a closer integration of SAP affiliates acquired by Mr Klein’s predecessor, Bill McDermott. These include Concur, a travel-expenses firm; Ariba, a procurement platform; and SuccessFactors, which makes HR software. This will require additional investments by SAP. So will Mr Klein’s plan to increase spending on research and development.
不过,“新冠肺炎显然是个拐点”,柯睿安表示。那些本来可能要再等五年才会转入云端的大公司老板现在希望加快速度。他们现在还要求SAP对柯睿安的前任孟鼎铭(Bill McDermott)收购的旗下业务做更紧密的整合。这些业务包括差旅费管理系统Concur、采购服务平台Ariba,以及人力资源管理软件制造商SuccessFactors等。这需要SAP额外投资。柯睿安增加研发支出的计划也一样。

SAP must now persuade its 35,000-odd ERP clients of the benefits of the cloud. It must convince investors of the same thing. Licences for on-site software bring a big chunk of revenue upfront, whereas customers initially pay much less for rolling cloud subscriptions. But recurring revenues are increasingly coveted by all manner of technology firms, from Amazon and Apple to Netflix, because they are more predictable and build a closer relationship with customers. The shift to the subscription model will eventually mean a big revenue lift for SAP, predicts Mark Moerdler at Bernstein, a broker.
SAP现在必须说服它的3.5万多个ERP客户相信转到云端的好处。它还必须让投资者也相信这一点。本地使用软件的授权费会给公司带来一大笔前期收入,而客户为循环式云订阅支付的费用在一开始要少得多。但是,循环收益越来越受到从亚马逊、苹果,到奈飞(Netflix)等各种各样科技公司的青睐,因为它们的可预见性更强,还能与客户建立更紧密的关系。券商盛博的马克·莫德勒(Mark Moerdler)预测,向订阅模式的转变最终将给SAP带来巨大的收入增长。

As for the transition to the cloud, it need not be onerous technically. That is a bit of red herring, thinks Paul Sanderson of Gartner. The bigger challenge is changing the culture of SAP, which has become too removed from its clients.
至于向云服务的转型,从技术层面讲未必很麻烦。高德纳的保罗·桑德斯(Paul Sanderson)认为,柯睿安的解释多少是为了转移注意力。更大的挑战是改变SAP的企业文化,它已经与其客户严重脱节。

Rivals will try to exploit the transition period to win over some of those customers. Larry Ellison, the colourful co-founder and now chief technology officer of Oracle, declared last year that “SAP’s customer base is up for grabs.” His subsequent claim that a huge client of SAP was about to defect to Oracle proved unfounded. Another such boast might not be. ■
竞争对手会试图利用SAP的转型期抢走它的一部分客户。个性复杂有趣的甲骨文联合创始人、现任首席技术官拉里·埃里森(Larry Ellison)去年曾扬言,“SAP的客户就等着被抢吧。”他随后又声称SAP的一个超级大客户即将投奔甲骨文。尽管后来证明这种说法是无中生有,但很难说类似的夸口不会成真。