In Christian Klein’s first year as sole chief executive officer at SAP SE, the company’s shares had their worst performance in 12 years. The pandemic damaged sales. And he lost his co-CEO in a high-profile ouster that eliminated the only woman running a large, publicly traded German company.
Klein has a bold plan to turn things around. It hinges on getting customers to adopt a suite of new cloud-based products that work faster and cost less to distribute and maintain. The aim is to put Europe’s largest software company on par with a generation of nimbler upstarts, such as Salesforce.com Inc. He’ll also need to find investor support for the expensive program in the middle of an economic slump.