Can Sap Swim With The Swiftest?

The battered software giant needs to catch up with the Americans. But it's hauling a lot of history

Hasso Plattner was feeling the heat. At an SAP users conference in Berlin in May, analysts and customers were pressing the co-CEO of Europe's biggest software company for hints that the slow-moving giant would take a bold step to catch up to U.S. rivals on the Web. Plattner, looking grim and jet-lagged, had little to give them. At one point he showed his frustration by admitting: "I don't know what we're doing wrong." Just weeks later, though, at a Las Vegas convention on June 14, a rejuvenated Plattner took to the stage. The cause: a fresh-cut deal with Net software hotshot Commerce One Inc., until now a rival, to combine forces and build business-to-business marketplaces on the Web.

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