Will SAP’s Bill McDermott Enter US Presidential Race?

“It doesn’t hurt that he would have the best hair of all of the current candidates.”

With the leading candidates of both US presidential parties out of favor with a majority of the electorate, there is renewed speculation that SAP CEO Bill McDermott may enter the US presidential race as either an independent or third-party candidate.

Clearly one of the most unusual primary seasons ever experienced by the American electorate, large numbers of voters are expressing their discontent with the status quo in Washington, casting votes for “outsider” candidates like Democrat Bernie Sanders or Republican Donald Trump.

According to Reuters, Bill McDermott “received compensation for 2015 including salary, benefits and short- and long-term incentives of 9.28 million euros ($10.40 million), up nearly 15 percent over 2014”. Although the chief executive of the United States earns a mere fraction of what a tech CEO makes, business-minded candidates from Ross Perot to Mitt Romney to Carly Fiorina have sought the office for more altruistic reasons than just compensation. In this election cycle, other high-profile business leaders from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to former New York mayor and businessman Michael Bloomberg have given the idea some consideration.

Should McDermott choose to enter the race, there would be a renewed emphasis on the use of technology in US elections. A secret team of elite data scientists and the world’s largest SAP HANA system- code named Event Horizon– are already at work analyzing voter demographics in an unassuming office building just minutes from SAP’s technology labs in Palo Alto, California.

An unnamed spokesperson who wasn’t authorized to speak publically about the matter said “Should he chose to run, we have a candidate who is a true leader on a global stage. He has a track record of bringing a positive approach to difficult problems and would do so for the problems currently facing the United States. His campaign style would be a sharp contrast to what Americans have seen so far in the primaries. And it doesn’t hurt that he would have the best hair of all of the current candidates.”

SAP just extended contracts for its executive team until 2021, but it’s unclear if that’s enough to keep Mr. McDermott out of the race. SAP spokesperson April Erste would only offer a terse “It is our policy not to comment on rumors or speculation,” when asked about the potential candidacy.

SAP Paris

In May 2015, I accompanied Eric Vallo to SAP’s offices in Paris.

In May 2015, I went to SAP’s office in Paris with Eric Vallo, EV Technologies’ Chief Architect. While our antics were pretty lame when compared to Harold and Kumar, Bill and Ted, or even Jamie and Clint, we had both a productive and poetic visit to one of the great European cities. SAP is a global software company, which I saw first hand. Paris is the original home of BusinessObjects prior to its acquisition by SAP in 2008. It’s presently the current home for the Web Intelligence and semantic layer teams but the BI platform, Crystal Reports, Design Studio, Lumira, and other BI tools are developed elsewhere.

Christian Ah-Soon was our gracious host and we got to see Saurabh Abhyankar, Olivier Duvelleroy, Timo Elliott, Ian Mayor, and so many other great SAP employees in their native habit. They had all just recently relocated from multiple locations around Paris into SAP’s new office building, the Tour SAP.

Tour SAP

EV Technologies’ core product, Sherlock for the BI platform, relies on many SDK’s including those for Web Intelligence and the semantic layer, so it’s great to have a face-to-face dialog about what is coming next. We learned about SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 Support Pack 6, which was released on June 15, 2015. And (shhh!) we learned about SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2 and its groundbreaking features like [censored] and [censored]. I’d like to share more about [censored] but most of the visit was covered by non-disclosure agreements.

Below is the view from the Tour SAP’s 19th floor. How can you not do your best work with a view like that?

The View

Here’s the Tour Eiffel up close and personal, although not nearly as breathtaking as the photos Timo Elliott takes for his Instagram feed.

Tour Eiffel

The highlight of the trip wasn’t Web Intelligence 4.2. Instead, it was getting to meet my social media mate Andrew Fox in person for the first time. In Paris. Below, you can see The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls along with the man himself, The Man Who Could Board a London Train for Paris.

Andrew Fox, the man who could walk through walls

We enjoyed some obligatory pâté and l’escargot before cutting into a fantastic Côte de Boeuf and pomme de terre Lyonnaise. And a nice bottle of Burgundy.

Bons Amis (Good Friends)

It was a great trip- my first to anywhere besides the United States or Canada. You can check out some of my other photos on Flickr.

The SAP team is excited about the new Web Intelligence and semantic layer features now available in BI 4.1 SP6 and coming soon in BI 4.2. And I am too.

Winners Dream

Bill McDermott’s Winners Dream is an inspiring life story and a must-read for SAP users.

Winners Dream by SAP CEO Bill McDermott (October 2014, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-1-4767-6108-4) chronicles his story from a working class neighborhood in New York to the corner office of one of the world’s most respected software companies.

winner – noun – one that is successful especially through praiseworthy ability and hard work

dream – verb – to think about something that you wish would happen or something that you want to do or be

The book is biographical, chronicling the “journey from corner store to corner office,” according to the book’s subtitle. It’s an inspirational tale because Bill McDermott was not a child of privilege- he has clearly worked hard for every milestone of success in his career.

“Mr. Fullwood, I don’t think you completely understand the situation.” I pause, and then explain. “I told my father as I left him at the train station today, that I guaranteed that I would come home tonight with my employee badge in my pocket. In twenty-one years, I’ve never broken a promise to my dad, and I can’t start now.” Silence. I don’t fill it. Mr. Fullwood looks at me with his head kind of tilted, like a puppy waiting to see what I’m going to do next, but I don’t make the next move.

As an analytics professional, with “classic BusinessObjects” pedigree, I never paid much attention to who was helming SAP. I spent more time studying the analytics roadmap and the ever-changing series of mid-level executives who created it. But there’s a lot to learn from here. Although Mr. McDermott was never the CEO of Xerox, he learned first-hand that a highly successful organization that buries its head in the sand might fade into irrelevance, which explains his passion for casting clear visions (via simple memorable phrases like “on demand, on premise, on device”) and pushing SAP into new frontiers like in-memory and cloud computing. It’s all about being “consumed with what people wanted and how I could give it to them,” whether as a teen-aged deli owner, an entry-level sales rep, a mid-level manager or CEO. Those looking for dirt about the inner workings of SAP won’t find it here. Instead, you’ll find relentless optimism from a business leader with a well-developed emotional intelligence and a positive outlook on work and life.

If your career depends on using SAP software, it’s time well-spent reading to learn more about the man currently leading the company.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Which SAP Analytics Conference Should I Attend?

If you can only attend one conference in 2015, which one should it be?

I’ve heard from more than one person that they only have budget to attend one conference in 2015. If you can only pick one, which one should it be? Read my answer and share your thoughts on the SAP Community Network article, Which SAP Analytics Conference Should I Attend?.

Gabe Orthous, Heather Sinkwitz, Jim Brogden and Dallas Marks, SAP Press authors

SF 325 Eileen



For SAP to win, does Tableau have to lose?

George Peck demonstrates how to integrate the SAP BI platform with Tableau Server.

For SAP to win, does Tableau have to lose? George Peck, founder of The Ablaze Group and author of books like Crystal Reports 2008: The Complete Reference and Tableau 8: The Official Guide, doesn’t seem to think so. Check out this video demonstrating bi-directional integration between SAP Crystal Reports Server/SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence and Tableau Server.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlkHqvi1j1E]

Does your organization actively use both products?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Tale of Two Hashtags

Scheduling the Tableau user conference the same week as the SAP BusinessObjects conference was pure genius.

ASUG SBOUC 2013 Banner

It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us,
we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven,
we were all going direct the other way…

from A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens

Howard Dresener.

Wayne Eckerson.

Claudia Imhoff.

William McKnight.

Neil Raden.

What do these names have in common? They are all thought leaders for analytics and business intelligence. And last week, all were at the 2013 Tableau Customer Conference (#TCC13) in Washington, D.C.- not the 2013 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference (#SBOUC2013) in Anaheim, California.

Cindy Howson (@BIScorecard) gets extra credit for spending time at both conferences, including a book signing at #SBOUC2013.


Ms. Howson estimated around 4,000 attendees at #TCC13.

Tableau estimated around 3,000 attendees at #TCC13.

George Peck the Crystal Reports guru is now George Peck the Tableau guru.

Let’s not mention Tableau for the Mac.


And don’t even get me started on Nate Silver and Walter Isaacson, just two of the keynote speakers at #TCC13. Don’t tease me with “Nate Silver is coming to SAP TechEd” next month in Las Vegas because I- like many SAP BusinessObjects customers- cannot justify the expense of two back-to-back conferences.

ASUG keeps a tight lid on conference attendance statistics, but the guestimates floating around the #SBOUC2013 conference were between 1,000 and 1,200 attendees. Is conference attendance a leading indicator or a lagging indicator of a software vendor’s fortunes? Any way you look at it, the current momentum is clearly in Tableau’s favor.

Many at #SBOUC2013 referred to this year’s conference as a family reunion. And it truly is a tight-knit family of analytics professionals. But while the number of new faces at this year’s speaker reception was impressive, the family clearly isn’t taking any cues from the reality TV Dugger family.

With the recent release of the BI 4.1 platform, in-memory technology platforms like Sybase IQ and HANA, the forthcoming SAP Lumira 1.12 (Mac edition, anyone?), and an energized and reorganized leadership team under Steve Lucas, the situation at SAP isn’t all gloom and doom. To be clear, there are a lot of initiatives under way that won’t be visible to the public until next year. But any decision making about future conferences should be sober and fact-based. Conference attendance figures clearly qualify as facts. As a new member of the ASUG BusinessObjects Advisory Council, I hope I’ll have the opportunity to work with both ASUG and SAP in 2014 to reach what is still the largest community of business intelligence users.

What are your thoughts on this year’s ASUG SBOUC conference and its attendance numbers?

Dell Loves SAP HANA. Really.

SAP HANA not only solves Big Data challenges, but Big PR Nightmares, too.

Dell tells WSJ SAP HANA has scalability issues

This week, the Wall Street Journal posted a blog with a catchy title about SAP HANA (see Wall Street Journal article, Dell Says SAP’s HANA Has ‘Scalability Issues’). I imagine that the article was clearly posted above the urinals in the executive mens room at Oracle.

But [Dell CIO] Ms. Karaboutis said during an interview that, “we’re not in production yet [because of] some scalability issues.” She said HANA may not have been as robust as it needed to be when it was introduced to the market, and while SAP marketed it as being able to parse data from a variety of sources, the system struggled to do that. “That’s one of the reasons it took so long to implement,” she said, and is “why it’s taken so long” for Dell executives to get those needed insights about customers. But she added that she still thinks SAP has “a great product.”

What made the article even more entertaining is that Dell is one of the hardware partners for SAP HANA. Maybe the Dell hardware, and not the SAP software, isn’t scaling? Hmmm??? Perhaps Dell CIO Andi Karaboutis thought she was speaking off-the-record- a mistake recently made by Barbara Morgan, communications director for the ever-entertaining NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner (see New York Daily News article, Anthony Weiner’s spokeswoman trashes intern Olivia Nuzzi in profanity-laced rant).

The Wall Street Journal article clearly got things buzzing at SAP, where Steve Lucas, SAP’s president of platform solutions, undoubtedly reached for the blue hotline to the Dell CIO office.

Blue Telephone

Yesterday, Dell CIO Andi Karaboutis posted  A Look at SAP HANA Inside Dell IT on the Dell web site. Without mentioning the Wall Street Journal article, she addressed the scalability issue with these remarks:

We have architected a model for scaling SAP HANA that we believe will keep pace with the demand of our users in sales operations and services.  To date we’ve been working in a single-node environment, and we will expand with the new architecture to a multi-node environment which we believe will lead to a successful launch.  We will leverage Dell’s recently launched scale-out solutions for our Active Infrastructure platform and rapid deployment services as we conduct these project deployments.

So if one Dell server isn’t enough, it doesn’t hurt to add a few more.  Wall Street Journal editor Michael Hickens back-pedalled from the “scalability issue” in his original piece (see Wall Street Journal article The Morning Download: ‘Scalability Issues’ Delayed SAP’s HANA at Dell) but still put the blame on SAP and other software vendors for “promising quick and seamless implementations”.

 It took six months for Dell Inc . to get HANA, SAP AG ‘s analytic software platform, running in a production environment, Dell CIO Andi Karaboutis told CIO Journal during an interview. Six months may not seem excessive for getting a large software project up and running, but time, especially for Dell these days, is of the essence.

The trouble isn’t so much with a six-month runway as with vendors’ penchant for promising quick and seamless implementations.

It’s rarely quite that simple, and vendors would be doing everyone a favor if they owned up to that.

The Wall Street Journal would be doing everyone a favor by avoiding a similar temptation- creating sensational headlines that take a single remark out of context. Andi Karaboutis concluded her blog with the following promise.

These are just a few of the exciting solutions and projects we have going on with SAP.  We look forward to sharing more about partnership at SAP TechEd, Oct. 21-25 in Las Vegas.

No doubt SAP TechEd attendees will be able to grab some cute “Dell Loves SAP HANA” teddy bear swag at the Dell booth.

  • Follow SAP’s Steve Lucas on Twitter
  • Follow Dell CIO Andi Karaboutis on Twitter
  • Follow Wall Street Journal editor Michael Hickens on Twitter
  • You’ll excuse me if I don’t provide a link to Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account

What do you think of Dell’s SAP HANA project?

Dandelions and Documentation

I saw the dandelion and I knew hope wasn’t lost.

I saw the dandelion and I knew hope wasn’t lost.
Katniss in The Hunger Games

If you have recently downloaded documentation from the SAP Help Portal, you may have noticed that the newest documents feature an attractive cover with a dandelion blowing in the wind.

SAP Dandelion Cover

Dandelions are interesting plants, classified on Wikipedia (see related article, Dandelions) as both beneficial and noxious. They have both culinary and medicinal uses. In the popular book, The Hunger Games, the dandelion represents hope.

As a child, I enjoyed blowing dandelion seeds into the wind. But as an adult, I have less favorable impressions. I now spend time, effort, and chemicals to remove dandelions from my lawn.

What are your impressions of dandelions? And why do you think SAP chose one for its cover photograph?

Brand New Day

The Twitter handles, they are a-changin’.

Have you heard this song before?

How many of you people out there
Been hurt in some kind of love affair
And how many times do you swear that you’ll never love [an analytics vendor] again?

How many lonely, sleepless nights
How many lies, how many fights
And why would you want to put yourself through all that again?

Lyrics from Sting’s 1999 hit Brand New Day? Or the pitch from that Tableau salesperson that keeps calling? No matter.

SAP Analytics Square 600

Today is April 22, the big day that the BusinessObjects twitter feed transforms into SAP Analytics (see related SCN article, @BusinessObjects Twitter Handle Changing to @SAPAnalytics on April 22. Sure, you can still tweet about BusinessObjects and use the #BOBJ hashtag, but clearly the times are a-changin’.

Twitter isn’t the only place where SAP’s BusinessObjects brand is no longer to be found. The signs hanging from trade show ceilings were pulled down a couple of years ago (see related article, Whistling Past the Brand Graveyard with BusinessObjects). The BusinessObjects brand was booted from the menus of the SAP Service Marketplace and removed from Enterprise Information Management (EIM) products like Data Services last year (read Understanding the Recent Branding Changes for Analytics Solutions from SAP from the SAP Analytics Blog). And if you’ve installed the latest Support Pack 5 for SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that the BusinessObjects brand has been removed from the Windows Start menu.

Due to their popularity and familiarity, some brands continue to live- even after an acquisition. You can still find Jif peanut butter and Folgers coffee in United States supermarkets even though those brands were acquired by Smuckers several years ago. But you can no longer take a ValuJet flight to Florida for your summer holiday. It seems like Crystal Reports is here to stay, although SAP- like the BusinessObjects company it acquired in 2008- still struggles with how to apply the “Crystal” brand to other products. And don’t even think about touching NetWeaver’s brand!

BusinessObjects is an unusual brand because it both describes a software company that no longer exists as well as a product that still does. If you assume BusinessObjects is merely a company name, it makes total sense that customers should embrace the idea that SAP is now the company that provides their software. However, if you assume BusinessObjects is a product name, phasing it out becomes more complicated.

At the organizations that I consult with, “SAP” isn’t just a vendor. It’s shorthand for “the system that runs our company”. It’s “what we enter data into”. In contrast, BusinessObjects is “our reporting platform” or “our BI tool”. It’s “what we get data out of”. It even has cute pet names like “BO” and “BOB-J”. See the difference? As a consultant, I follow SAP’s branding moves closely- it’s part of my job. But what about the millions of users who only have a casual relationship with the BI platform? If the SAP brand is applied to everything, which words- that can be repeated in polite company- will these casual business users use to refer to the SAP analytics suite while distinguishing it from the business suite?

Regardless of the branding strategy or its coherence, that is the question that I hope SAP’s product marketing professionals will ponder. Preferably over a hot cup of Smuckers coffee.

Related Articles

What future do you see for the BusinessObjects brand? Will it be dumped next month at SAP SAPPHIRE for the upcoming BI 4.1 release? Dropped whenever BI 5.0 arrives? Or live on but in a limited role?

Less Magic in the Gartner Magic Quadrant

Is SAP getting crowded out of Gartner’s Business Intelligence leaders quadrant?

Here is the 2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms published in February 2012.



And here is the 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms published in February 2013.



There are some obvious trends, which are clearly visualized on the Gartner Magic Quadrant Over Time, courtesy of Tableau.  Tableau and Tibco are, rightly so, making a big deal of their first appearance in the leaders quadrant. But it looks like one vendor in particular needs a sprinkle of magic fairy dust before it’s “leader” status turns into a “visionary” pumpkin.

With so many vendors ordained as leaders, SAP Mentor Jamie Oswald wonders if analysts like Gartner still have a relevant place in the customer buying decision (see Jamie’s article Modern Magic).

What do you think about the crowded field of leaders in the 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant?