The 2008 CRM Market Awards: Influential Leaders -- Bill McDermott

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The Rock:
Bill McDermott
president and chief executive officer
SAP Americas & Asia Pacific Japan

Influential leaders, to borrow a phrase, aren’t born, they’re made—and this is the case with Bill McDermott, president and chief executive officer of SAP Americas & Asia Pacific Japan. While some leaders start change, others have to maintain the new direction when key executives abandon ship.

Looking to throw its hat into the CRM 2.0 ring, SAP went back to the basics and reached out to its customers. Its SAP CRM 2007 answers the longstanding usability criticisms with an intuitive, clean user interface—patterned on the likes of iGoogle but powered by the functionality of SAP. According to Paul Greenberg, president of The 56 Group and cofounder of CRM consultancy BPT Partners—and fellow Influential Leader—while McDermott may not have launched the metamorphosis at SAP, he has certainly helped keep the ship steaming ahead after the departure of Shai Agassi, former president of SAP’s product and technology group, in 2007.

While Greenberg calls Agassi “the trigger for the changes at SAP,” he says that McDermott—an industry veteran who was executive vice president of worldwide sales and operations at Siebel Systems, and later a president at Gartner—“recognizes the winds of change smell different than stale winds.”

Take SAP’s extended partnership with Research in Motion to natively integrate SAP CRM software with the BlackBerry mobile device. That move, as McDermott is fond of saying, “changes the game” for mobile CRM—and for SAP itself. Also, SAP continues to forge ahead in its plans to refocus its relationship with its clientele via its customer-focused ecosystem. The platform already boasts 14 Industry Value Networks, more than 350,000 members (in its business process expert facet), and upwards of 3,500 service partners. Showing that leadership does not mean blindly forging ahead, the decision to delay its midmarket-oriented Business ByDesign for at least another year to work out any issues shows restraint and a commitment to deliver quality solutions.

Picking up where others left off—and then blazing a trail of leadership to call his own—that’s why McDermott is joining the ranks of our Influential Leaders.  

For the rest of our 2008 Influential Leaders, click here.

To view the rest of the 2008 CRM Market Awards, click here.

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