As SAP prepares for its annual customer gathering, its UK operation has parted company with its managing director Kevin Gibson.
In a move that surprised many, Gibson left last Wednesday to join SAP partner Ariba Software, a procurement software vendor that is ramping up its European operations. Gibson joins to head up the European operation from the UK.
According to an SAP spokesperson, it was decided that no official announcement would be made and Gibson's departure was, "Amicable on both sides."
Gibson's replacement will be Erwin Gunst, who previously managed SAP's Swiss operation. Some observers think this is a retrograde step for the UK because Gibson was originally groomed for the post on SAP co-chairman's Henning Kagermann's specific orders that the UK should have a local boss, following a difficult period under the leadership of Petra Frenzl, who has since left SAP.
Trevor Salomon, ex-SAP and now head of J D Edwards European marketing said, "It sounds as though SAP is going to do another round of belt tightening if they're bringing in an outsider. It's certainly a sign the going's getting tough."
Earlier in the week, rumours were circulating that SAP was struggling to retain its best sales people but SAP UK denies this is the case.
"That's not true at all," said the spokesperson. However, one of SAP's top sales managers, Shak Aktar is understood to have left recently. Another commentator said, "Shak has this uncanny knack of jumping ship before all hell breaks loose."
SAP, along with the other enterprise resource application (ERA) vendors, is finding life hard at the moment as the focus of IT spend shifts to customer relationship management (CRM) and supply chain (SC) solutions, where specialist vendors are able to show demonstrable benefits to customers.
A recent Gartner Group report suggested the ERA vendors are a long way behind those in the CRM market, such as Siebel Systems, or in SC, such as i2 Technologies, in offering functionally rich applications.
However, last week, SAP surprised the market by turning in better than expected results. In its first reporting period under full US GAAP rules, SAP showed overall revenue growth of 22 per cent to 1.08 billion euros ($1,149 million), although pretax profit fell slightly to 98 million euros ($96 million).
VNU Newswire will be reporting from Sapphire 99 in Nice next week.
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