SAP on Sunday shook up its Supervisory Board. SAP's Supervisory Board nominated Pekka Ala-Pietilä to the board as the successor to Chairman Prof. Dr. Hasso Plattner.
SAP and Dr. h.c. Punit Renjen said they have "mutually agreed to part ways because of a difference in perspective on the role of SAP Supervisory Board." In a statement, SAP didn't elaborate on the split. Renjen was designated to assume Plattner's spot on the Supervisory Board.
Ala-Pietilä (right) will stand for election for a two-year term at SAP's annual meeting on May 15. Renjen will officially resign on May 15.
SAP's Supervisory Board swap comes a month after the company added Muhammad Alam to the company's Executive Board to succeed Thomas Saueressig for the company's product engineering. Saueressig will focus on accelerating SAP customers adoption of the cloud.
The Supervisory Board shakeup comes as SAP is going through multiple transitions to move customers to the cloud, popularize AI across its business applications and manage a sometimes vocal user base.
Ala-Pietilä, 67, has been a member of SAP's Supervisory Board from 2002 to 2021. He was also President of Nokia from 1995 to 2005.
In addition, Ala-Pietilä will bring artificial intelligence heft to SAP's Supervisory Board. He was the Chairman of the EU Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence from 2018-2020 and chair of Finland's Artificial Intelligence Program from 2017-2019.
Plattner, who has been Chairman of SAP's Supervisory Board since 2003, said Ala-Pietilä will bring "vision and a well-measured approach" to ensure SAP's success. Plattner also thanked Renjen for his contributions.
Ala-Pietilä's statement indicated he would be focused on developing and deploying SAP's Business AI.
Constellation Research analyst Holger Mueller said:
"Cultural change is hard for SAP. Outgoing Chairman and partial owner Hasso Plattner wants change but the executives installed tend to run into insourmountable challenges on the cultural side. From Shai Agassi to Vishal Sikka to Jennier Morgan and now Punit Renjen executives are installed as change agents who get initial backing but then overshoot on what is feasible and achievable in a multinational company. Ironically, it is back to Ala-Pietilä, who was passed over before, to start the transition to the post Plattner era."