Having published last night’s post on the difficulty of moving any traditional software business toward offering a SaaS solution and gone to bed, I wake this morning to see the Web a-buzz with news of SAP‘s latest hire. See, for example, Ben Worthen, Joshua Greenbaum, Vinnie Mirchandani, and Maureen O’Gara.

John Wookey, formerly an executive at Oracle, has been named as SAP’s new ‘Executive Vice President of Large Enterprise On Demand.’ As Ben Worthen notes on the Wall Street Journal’s Business Technology blog,

“That title is tantalizing because it implies a major strategic shift for SAP that the company hasn’t so much as hinted at previously.”

Wookey’s remit appears (strangely) to explicitly exclude SAP’s troubled mid-range SaaS offering, Business ByDesign, and he’ll be concentrating on taking a SaaS proposition to SAP’s core customer base of big corporates.

Everything I wrote last night about the mid-range applies at the top of the game too, only more so. SAP are playing an extremely risky game here, and the cost of failure in front of their core customer base almost doesn’t bear thinking about.

I look forward to seeing whether Wookey can pull it off from inside SAP, or if the inertia and vested interests of an established company and its traditional processes will once again crush the innovative streak and quash the necessary disruption.

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