Third, Snabe notes that the two speak every day. "We collaborate and stay in touch regardless of where we are in the world," he says. "Telepresence allows Bill and I to have face-to-face conversations without physically being in the same location. We connect by phone and e-mail regularly, and also enjoy getting together with our families outside of the office."
The two have also benefited from what some people have termed SAP's "third CEO": Vishal Sikka, SAP's first-ever CTO and executive board member who's been a guiding force in rolling out new initiatives such as in-memory databases, an enterprise mobility push resulting from SAP's Sybase acquisition, and its latest technology partnerships, such as the HP-IBM collaboration on SAP's High-Performance Analytic Appliance (HANA) software.
[ Read more SAP analysis on CIO.com: SAP: Torn Between the Old World and the New ]
Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research and SAP watcher, says that McDermott and Snabe have done a good job "cleaning house" and setting the overall tone of the new SAP.
"They've made tremendous effort to reach out to their respective stakeholders-customers, employees, partners, suppliers and influencers," Wang says. "They are focused on listening and have acknowledged their challenges. They also understand that future revenues will not come from core apps and have made the right set of acquisitions."
Snabe says that their two-headed decision-making process is more of a machine rather than a monster.
"Most people assume that being two means a decision takes longer and is more difficult. I have been surprised to see that it is easier," he says. "As a CEO you are often alone when it comes to the big decisions. We have been able to take the big decisions with more focus and speed because we are two."
The Challenges That Remain
To date, there's been more praise for the duo than criticism. SAP (and McDermott and Snabe) may have benefited from a recovering global economy, where businesses had more capital to spend on enterprise software. (After all, Apotheker didn't cause the 2008 global economic recession, but he may have unfairly taken some of the blame for it while CEO.)