SAP has named Maggie Chan Jones -- a Microsoft and Level 3 veteran -- as chief marketing officer. Moreover, former SAP CMO Jonathan Becher has been appointed as the company’s first chief digital officer to lead SAP's new digital business unit. Both moves come as SAP tries to accelerate its Big Data and cloud businesses, and online software sales.

First, the big picture. During its most recent earnings call in Oct. 2014, SAP CFO Luka Mucic said cloud subscriptions and support revenues jumped 41 percent year over year. Also, deferred cloud subscriptions and support revenue rose 30 percent year over year. SAP's expects to end the year with cloud subscription and support revenues at about $1.32 billion to $1.36 billion, according to Seeking Alpha. That's progress -- but SAP's overall annual revenues are roughly $21.5 billion or so.

With those realities in mind, SAP will lean on Jonathan Becher and Maggie Chan Jones in their new roles. Becher will oversee SAP's effort to combine existing online stores into one new SAP Store, "where buyers can discover, try, buy, download, and upgrade its software, services, education and content offerings in a completely frictionless environment."

Meanwhile, Jones will seek to bolster SAP's overall brand, which has made progress in recent years but at times evokes thoughts of complex, long-term ERP deployments that take years to complete.

The Microsoft Office 365 Years

In some ways, Jones has been down this road before. During an earlier stint with Microsoft, she helped the software company to build its Office 365 cloud brand. Still, Jones exited Microsoft in 2012, somewhat before Office 365 became the juggernaut it is today. Most recently, she was senior VP of North America Makreting at Level 3 Communications.

At SAP, Jones could be called on to bolster the corporate brand as well as product brands -- including potential growth areas like SAP HANA (in-memory database), Successfactors (HR and human capital management), and the overall SAP cloud-based suite of business applications.

Despite some of SAP's branding and product positioning challenges, the company certainly is well-known, ranking No. 3 among Best German Brands and No. 25 among Best Global Brands, according to Interbrand rankings for 2014.

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