Plattner pledges continued leadership

James M. Connolly, Editor

SAN DIEGO -- SAP's Hasso Plattner yesterday denied reports that he will no longer play a pivotal role at the software company he helped start, even though he will soon surrender his chief executive title and become chairman of the company's supervisory board.

In a keynote session at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, Plattner provided specifics on his plan to cede the CEO title he has shared with Henning Kagermann in recent years. The move will leave Kagermann alone at the top.

"I will stay involved in the day-to-day business of the company but concentrate on long-term strategy, not only for products, but for things like management and employment," Plattner said.

His remarks were made during an interview with Gartner Inc. analysts Bruce Bond and Yvonne Genovese, who appeared on stage with Plattner.

Addressing recent reports that he has already relinquished many of his SAP responsibilities, Plattner noted that German law requires him to work at least two days a week in order to serve in an executive position.

Plattner intends, he said, to become an advocate for SAP's move beyond database-based applications and into service-based applications.

"Applications had to own the data [in the past]," Plattner said. "With the Internet, now, everything, everywhere in the world is available to the application, theoretically."

Plattner also pitched SAP's new strategic platform, NetWeaver, as a key component in the corporate world's

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attempts to build applications that access data -- regardless of which application the data is associated with.

When questioned by Genovese about how "out-of-the-box" that sort of integration might be, Plattner said, "It probably always will be a problem, but we can make it better."

Despite the company's recent focus on integration, and compatibility with competitors, Plattner said, SAP will still push to be No. 1 in 23 industry-specific markets.

In particular, Plattner cited the customer relationship management (CRM) sector, where he claimed that SAP recently surpassed market leader Siebel Systems Inc. when comparing sales in a single quarter. SAP, Plattner said, is on the way to taking over the CRM market.

Gartner recently published a report saying that Siebel remained in the leadership position in the CRM arena, and Siebel has disputed SAP's recent sales figures.


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