A Private Club for Elite SAP Consultants

Sell a Solution, Not Just a Skill

No doubt many SAP consultants were watching events unfold at Hewlett-Packard last week with great interest. Former SAP and now HP CEO, Leo Apotheker, reversed a decision he had announced just last March to huge fanfare — that WebOS would be the future operating system in all HP computers and that HP would be shipping 100 million WebOS devices. One of those would be the TouchPad, launched in June.

Now HP is scraping all WebOS devices, including the TouchPad, and may spin off its entire PC business. HP also bought Autonomy, a British maker of analytics software for $10.3 billion (roughly half the cash on HP’s balance sheet) at 11 times revenue. The day of Leo’s announcement HP’s stock plunged 20 percent to $23.60. In one year, the stock has declined 49 percent (versus a 3 percent gain on the S&P index). SAP stock, by the way, is up almost 20% in the past year.

So what lessons are there here for those of us who sell SAP consulting?

One lesson seems to be that the leadership change at SAP was a good thing. Another is that HP, in trying to transform itself into a software company, is also trying to transform itself into the kind of company Leo thinks he can run. He’s a software company CEO; so let’s make HP a software company — a classic case of, “if you’re a hammer, make every problem a nail.”

Rather than think about what he can do, perhaps Leo should think about what the customer wants. Today it’s all about the ecosystem, the total solution. Just last week United/Continental bought 11,000 Apple iPads for its paperless cockpit. Of course, Apple doesn’t make enterprise software — a fact that SAP consultants can exploit by making a lot existing enterprise apps tablet friendly — as well as by creating entirely new ones.

Perhaps HP could have done that for the TouchPad. Maybe by exploited its natural advantages in the enterprise space, HP could have built a mobile ecosystem of its own; one tuned to enterprise users running large HP-enabled business systems.

Bringing enterprise apps to tablets looks like a big opportunity. But whether it is or not, the real lesson is to think about giving the customer a whole solution, not just a skill. That applies equally whether you are a computer company exec or an SAP consultant.

Leave a Reply