There was a lot of trepidation amongst the BusinessObjects community when SAP acquired Business Objects in January 2008. We had all seen how Oracle had consumed Hyperion (which had, in turn, consumed Brio) to the point of losing its identity as an independent BI solution. The question was would SAP do the same to BusinessObjects?
On the day of the acquisition, I was attending a joint sales and partner meeting for BusinessObjects in Las Vegas listening to a mix of top Business Objects and SAP Executives delivering presentations to motivate sales for the coming year. There was really very little of substance until this man named Leo Apotheker took to the stage. He was engaging and passionate as he explained that Business Objects would remain an autonomous division of SAP so that it could effectively continue to sell Business Intelligence to all. He then went on to explain who SAP was and the core values of the company and how those would benefit the BusinessObjects employees, partners and product suite. He painted an exciting vision of both the direction for SAP and BusinessObjects. I believe he impressed and inspired a lot of people in the room that day.
The global financial crisis followed later that year and into 2009 and Apotheker had his work cut out for him to steer SAP through a difficult time but he continued to push Business Intelligence to the forefront of SAP as well as actively support the Sustainability solution initiative within SAP.
So at the beginning of 2010 as we emerged from that difficult period, I was both shocked and sad to see Leo Apotheker leave SAP. Of course, what he put in place has borne remarkable results with now more than 50% of SAP’s license revenues coming from Business Intelligence (not bad when you consider SAP was eight times larger than Business Objects at the time of acquisition) and SAP a clear leader in the Sustainability solution arena.
Leo Apotheker is now the CEO of Hewlett-Packard ( a company eight times larger than SAP – HP Press release ) and I think they are very fortunate to have such a visionary leading them. Unfortunately, we will not see how much further he could have taken SAP but, from where I sit, he certainly set them on the right track.
In searching for a picture to post on this blog, I found the following blog post from Feb 7, 2010 http://www.enterpriseirregulars.com/12079/news-analysis-saps-ceo-leo-apotheker-resigns/ which has many links including one to the official SAP press release.