SAP Cloud: Lars Dalgaard will leave a huge hole

Now he is gone, Lars Dalgaard. He was my personal hope for SAP and in my opinion the driving force behind the cloud strategy of the company from Walldorf, which has received more and more momentum in the last month. But not only for the Cloud Dalgaard has revamped SAP, even cultural it would have been good for the company to have him longer in their own ranks. Or was it maybe exactly this problem why he had to go after such a short time.

Credible positive energy

The cloud thoughts SAP has incorporated externally by the akquisiton of SuccessFactors and with its founder and CEO Lars Dalgaard. After taking over the Dane was the person in authority for the SAP Cloud area and the driving force behind the SAP cloud services. And he has done this job very well. In his keynote, during the Sapphire Now 2012, in which he introduced the new SAP cloud strategy, Dalgaard presented himself as explosive entrepreneur who did not discarded his startups genes by far. On the contrary, with his motivation, he brought a fresh breeze in the established group based in Walldorf, Germany.

On my retrospective on the Sapphire Now, 2012 i had written (only in German): “It is to be hoped for Dalgaard and especially for SAP, that he can realize his cloud vision and that he may hope for open doors with his startup character. Because SAP is far away from what can be logically described as a startup.

Different corporate cultures

Has precisely this circumstance for Dalgaard or better SAP become the fate? Lars Dalgaard resigned from his executive position on the first of June 2013, has left SAP and entered as a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz. He will continue to be available for SAPs cloud business as an advisor for the cloud governance board .

I only can speculate at this point. Although I do not personally know Dalgaard. But his positive energy that he exudes during his lectures, evidence of someone who knows what he wants and have a clear focus. Admittedly, I’m not a SAP expert with regard to the corporate culture. However, many good people already questionably broken at SAP. Just take Shai Agassi as one example.

Quo vadis, SAP?

To moor an entire company on a single and also purchased externally person is exaggerated. However, I take the view that the loss of Lars Dalgaard could have a significant impact on the cloud business of SAP. One remember the very rocky start of SAP in the cloud area with its product line “SAP Business By Design”, which had not deserves the term cloud solution in its first version and which was a real letdown. With Business By Design 4.0 SAP has – under the direction of Lars Dalgaard – once again started from scratch and the train began to move.

It is desirable for SAP that they do not lose this “Dalgaard mentality” in order to remain competitive in the cloud market. Because one should not forget that a cloud business must be conducted differently as a traditional software company. Just compare Amazon and Google. The same also Microsoft needed to understand and learned to reinvent themselves. SAP was – with Lars Dalgaard – at least on the right track, so far.

By Rene Buest

Rene Buest is Gartner Analyst covering Infrastructure Services & Digital Operations. Prior to that he was Director of Technology Research at Arago, Senior Analyst and Cloud Practice Lead at Crisp Research, Principal Analyst at New Age Disruption and member of the worldwide Gigaom Research Analyst Network. Rene is considered as top cloud computing analyst in Germany and one of the worldwide top analysts in this area. In addition, he is one of the world’s top cloud computing influencers and belongs to the top 100 cloud computing experts on Twitter and Google+. Since the mid-90s he is focused on the strategic use of information technology in businesses and the IT impact on our society as well as disruptive technologies.

Rene Buest is the author of numerous professional technology articles. He regularly writes for well-known IT publications like Computerwoche, CIO Magazin, LANline as well as and is cited in German and international media – including New York Times, Forbes Magazin, Handelsblatt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Computerwoche, CIO, Manager Magazin and Harvard Business Manager. Furthermore Rene Buest is speaker and participant of experts rounds. He is founder of and writes about cloud computing, IT infrastructure, technologies, management and strategies. He holds a diploma in computer engineering from the Hochschule Bremen (Dipl.-Informatiker (FH)) as well as a M.Sc. in IT-Management and Information Systems from the FHDW Paderborn.