I’ve been watching the buzz that followed the announcement of John Wookey’s departure from SAP. Others have come and gone with hardly a mention but this departure is getting a bit more attention. Quite frankly I think it has more to do with Twitter than it does with SAP or John Wookey himself. That’s how I first learned of his resignation and I would guess most industry observers learned about it the same way. The immediacy of social media, Twitter especially, seems to spur everyone to either weigh in on the matter, or at least pass along the news. I was no exception, even though I am hardly as prolific in tweeting as many of my industry counterparts.
Ordinarily I don’t write much about organizational changes unless I believe they are somehow game changing. In fact I haven’t written a real analysis of a departure since Shai Agassi’s departure in March 2007. I did post a brief entry to my Aberdeen blog when Leo Apotheker left, but even that did not have the potential impact that Shai’s departure had. And John Wookey’s doesn’t even come close. But that is actually to John’s and SAP’s credit.
Yes John Wookey was a voice of the on-demand strategy at SAP, but let’s not forget that initially the “line of business” (which was really the large enterprise) on-demand strategy, which John was in charge of, had nothing to do with the current strategy which uses the Business ByDesign architecture as the overall on-demand platform. But today the revamped on-demand strategy is firmly enough in place and execution has begun in earnest. I don’t believe John Wookey’s departure (or that of any SAP exec) has the potential of derailing the wheels that have been set in motion to carry through on that strategy.
Shai’s departure was much different. First of all, Shai had a far more influential position than John. Prior to his departure he oversaw the development of the SAP NetWeaver platform, SAP xApps packaged composite applications, mySAP SRM, SAP Business One, and the project that ultimately produced Business ByDesign (called the A1S mid-market initiative back then). And there was a massive reorganization when he left. I never really decided for sure whether his departure triggered the reorg or if the reorg triggered his departure. In the end, it didn’t matter all that much.
At the time, as an Aberdeen analyst I wrote, “SAP appears to be far enough down the path of its enterprise SOA strategy to not be derailed by the departure of a single executive, even one as charismatic as Shai. The migration to its new platform and mySAP ERP [which became the basis for the Business Suite] has begun although SAP still has a long way to go to meet the publicly stated goal of 100,000 customers by 2010 [the Business Objects acquisition gave that initiative a big shot in the arm]. And SAP is in the early stages of delivering against the newly announced A1S mid-market strategy [which was made available on a limited basis as Business ByDesign in September of that year].”
Since Shai’s departure there have been a lot of ups and downs, as well as sideways motion on all these initiatives. But all of these goals have since been achieved, in one way or another. At this point I would just wish John well and will keep an eye out for where he lands. I am sure someone I follow on Twitter will tell me as soon as they know.