Inside the Secret Software Power

Gerd Meissner

Publisher: McGraw-Hill, 2000, 238 pages

ISBN: 0-07-134785-2

Keywords: Biography, Enterprise Resource Planning

Last modified: Nov. 8, 2008, 11:24 p.m.

German company SAP, the global leader in business-enterprise software, is one of those omnipresent computer-age giants about which the public knows very little. Certainly its name, an acronym for Systems, Applications, Products in Data Processing, isn't much help. Neither are the strong-arm spin-control tactics undertaken to keep it that way by the multibillion-dollar firm. It was launched in 1972, three years before Microsoft, and now ranks second in the software industry behind that Billy-come-lately in Redmond. SAP's long-standing veil of anonymity was first nudged aside in 1997, however, with the German publication of technology reporter Gerd Meissner's Inside the Secret Software Power. Now available in English, it offers a still-unparalleled appraisal of a company that came out of nowhere to dominate the market for behind-the-scenes software packages that manage financials, materials, and logistics for multinational companies like DuPont, Deutsche Telekom, Coca-Cola, and even Microsoft. Meissner traces SAP's development, along with the media relationships that defined much of its first three decades, to show where the company has come from and where it might be going. SAP howled in protest when the book was first released but has since taken a noticeably more proactive PR approach (which include TV commercials for its entry in the Internet wars).

  • Preface: SAP — The Opportunity for Globalization
  • Introduction: The October 1996 Plunge of SAP's Stock
  • Part I: Development Phase, 1972-1980
    • Chapter One: Start-up — Leaving IBM's Open-Plan Office
    • Chapter Two: Growth Phase — "We Learned with Each Implementation"
  • Part II: Products, Services, and Markets — Core Competencies  
    • Chapter Three: SAP R/3 — Product Development and Customers
    • Chapter Four: Positioning in the High-End Market Segment
    • Chapter Five: Success in the United States — The Klaus Factor
    • Chapter Six: Systems Implementation — "Being Sold Down the River"
    • Chapter Seven: Corporate Culture — The Beehive in Walldorf
  • Part III: Publicity
    • Chapter Eight: SAP and the Media — A Critical Relationship
    • Chapter Nine: Outstanding Performance for Shareholders
    • Chapter Ten: Washing Dirty Linen in Public — The Resignation of Cofounder Hans-Werner Hector
  • Part IV: Outlook on the Future
    • Chapter Eleven: On Friendly Terms with Microsoft
    • Chapter Twelve: Application Software for the Internet — Emitting Sparks
  • Epilogue
  • Sources and Acknowledgments
  • Appendix: Company History
  • Appendix: Online Sources



Reviewed by Roland Buresund

OK ***** (5 out of 10)

Last modified: Nov. 8, 2008, 11:03 p.m.

The SAP story. Interesting subject, but…


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