SAP appoints its first CTO
Vishal Sikka, formerly the company's senior vice president and chief software architect, steps into positionBy James Niccolai, Paris | Thursday, 31 May 2007
SAP named its first chief technology officer yesterday, the latest move to reorganise its executive ranks following the resignation two months ago of Shai Agassi, president of its products and technologies group in the US.
Vishal Sikka, formerly senior vice president and chief software architect at SAP, will head the company's newly created Office of the CTO, responsible for ensuring a "clear and harmonised roadmap" for SAP's products, the company said. He will report to CEO Henning Kagermann and be based in Palo Alto, California.
SAP felt it needed a CTO to help orchestrate some of the broad changes underway at the company, including its renewed focus on the midmarket, the introduction of new on-demand products and the continued roll-out of NetWeaver and its SOA strategy, said SAP spokesman Frank Hartmann.
His promotion will fill a gap in SAP's US executive ranks after Agassi's departure, said Bo Lykkegaard, a research manager with IDC in Denmark. SAP needed "a senior person with clear management responsibilities and the authority to really drive development decisions," he said.
"If the guy's good enough then it's a good move for SAP. I was seeing a hole there after Shai Agassi," he said.
Hartmann said Sikka should not be viewed as a replacement for Agassi, whose responsibilities have been divided among several executives who report directly to Kagermann. However, part of Sikka's job will overlap with Agassi's former duties, Hartmann said.
SAP also recently lost another senior executive, Aliza Peleg, managing director of SAP Labs in the US, who will leave the business applications company by the end of June.
The changes at SAP come at a time of heightened competition with its main rival, Oracle, which has strengthened its hand in the business applications market through several acquisitions.
SAP is close to completing a revamp of its main applications platform through the addition of Netweaver, its software for SOA development. It is also about to roll out a major on-demand product for the midmarket called A1S.
The company wasn't alone among big vendors in not having a CTO. Oracle lacks the position, although it has a chief corporate architect] who serves a similar role. Microsoft doesn't have one, although Ray Ozzie was CTO briefly before taking over from Bill Gates as chief software architect.
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