SAP's Globalization Challenges

The Wall Street Journal published a fascinating article today on the challenges of globalization within SAP (registration required) -- itself one of the world's largest and arguably most global software providers. A great read, the piece describes the inside story on how SAP made a strong push to globalize its development and culture, only to find internal challenges along the way. For those not in the know, it also gives insight into SAP's more eccentric personalities. Consider that Haso Plattner, an SAP founder, "was known as a technological visionary with a fiery temperament. He once mooned the crew of Oracle founder Lawrence Ellison's yacht during a race."

From a procurement perspective, I will say that I've never seen the underside of SAP's products (probably a good thing, as I hear the implementations can get a bit hairy ;-). But I can also tell you that their SRM product strategy and development efforts have been global in nature for some time (with the US leading the positioning and more innovative efforts). Also, one of the earlier thinkers on the SRM team, Faheem Ahmed, who has since moved onto different things within SAP, had a great appreciation of the global needs and input required to develop an optimal set of applications. So if SAP does succeed in looking more global, perhaps SRM will become the posterchild for Shai's global development and product commercialization vision.

Jason Busch

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