SAP's not-so-secret weapon: Its own CIO

By Thomas Wailgum , CIO |  IT Management, CIO role, IT management

There are but a few "rock star" CIOs leading high-tech vendors' IT efforts. Most notable are HP's Randy Mott and Microsoft's Tony Scott.

However, when the right CIO falls into the right situation, the combination can be powerful for both vendor and customer: A peer CIO who knows the lay of the land ( IT governance, project management and political challenges that IT leaders face) as well as the guts of the vendor's software (what it can and cannot do).

It's the proverbial "Eat Your Own Dog Food" situation, espoused by many technology leaders. (Bussmann, however, prefers "Drink Your Own Champagne," which is both more elegant and also, unintentionally, hints at the high price of SAP software.)

This type of vendor CIO and customer relationship is demanding: It requires absolute transparency, honesty and a faith between the two parties that everyone's best interests are paramount.

"The conversations are open, honest and very direct," Bussmann says of his meetings with SAP customers. "They're sharing what their challenges are.... Sometimes it's not only about [SAP] products. It's about how they want the governance to run, about managing the portfolio, business-IT alignment, delivery models and sourcing."

In addition, Bussmann's IT team documents and shares its findings in a reference database at help.sap.com.

When asked if he's incented to be an SAP salesperson, Bussmann is blunt: "This is not sales. When we're going in to meet with customers, we try to avoid any salespeople," he says. "My job is not to sell but to share experiences and recommendations. I don't sell."

In addition, his prerogative is to talk about all the good and bad things he's learned by being the "first customer," he says. "I'm going to be vocal and talk about pitfalls if they're there. Sometimes I will say, with certain functions, that I would do something differently. That's part of our job."

NEXT: Being SAP's "First Customer" One Face of the New SAP

Bussmann may have been hired by Apotheker during his short-lived seven-month reign, but Bussmann represents nothing of the old regime. He's a part of what many are calling the New SAP.


Originally published on CIO |  Click here to read the original story.
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