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Table: Plattner's Uphill Battles

SAP's Hasso Plattner has made some progress in turning the company into a major player in e-business software. But it's like rolling stones uphill, and he still has a long way to go.

Gaining Ground in New Markets

Progress: 30% of the way

With SAP's core financial and human resources software market growing at less than 10% a year, co-CEO Hasso Plattner must find new turf. SAP (SAP) is off to a slow start in the exploding market for customer-management software, with just a 2% share. It's doing better in supplier management, where this year it's expected to have a 9% share and trail only i2 Technologies (ITWO).

Changing Culture

Progress: 50% of the way

SAP has long been dominated by its engineering teams, which have been slow to change. So Plattner set up a handful of startups in the U.S. and Germany to stimulate innovation. He's also urging SAP's engineers to respond to customer requests. Habits die hard, and that goes for Plattner's, too. He insists there's no need to throw out hard-to-use SAP software tools that customers have complained about.

Forging Partnerships

Progress: 60% of the way

SAP used to do everything itself. But after being late with e-commerce software, Plattner forged a key alliance with Commerce One (CMRC) last year that made SAP a player in e-marketplaces. This spring it joined with Yahoo! (YHOO) to create corporate portal software. Both alliances are promising, but SAP has a ways to go to become a leader in these businesses.

Getting with the Web

Progress: 80% of the way

SAP was late to the Internet, but toward the end of 1999, Plattner delivered, a version of the company's software for big corporate jobs that could be viewed via Web browsers. After a lag, the product took off, driving sales growth 29% last quarter. SAP will soon ship application-server software that will help corporations create e-business programs quickly.

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