At Siebel, Coote will take over as the vice president of North American operations.
Coote, a longtime SAP employee, started in the Switzerland office of SAP in 1988. In his decade at SAP, Coote served as chief financial officer of SAP America, then was promoted to executive vice president, and then president of SAP America in 1996.
McKay said he enjoyed working with Coote, describing him as a charismatic leader.
"He really didn't tell me why he left," other than that he got a "compelling offer," said McKay, who joined SAP as chief financial officer of SAP America four years ago.
Coote's departure is bad timing for SAP, which plans to release customer relationship management (CRM) software this spring that competes with front-office leader Siebel's established line of CRM applications.
Luring Coote to Siebel was likely a calculated move on Siebel's part, said John Bermudez, a vice president at Boston-based AMR Research.
"[Coote] can create lots of fear, uncertainty, and doubt about what SAP has and why Siebel is better," he said.
Coote's departure comes as SAP today also announced it has formed six industry sectors in its Americas region--and appointed six managers to run the new sectors--to further penetrate new and existing markets.
With the move, the company is aligning its sales and marketing teams around vertical markets instead of geographic regions to better compliment the way their customers are now doing business. Analysts said the realignment is becoming more common throughout the ERP software and IT services industry.
McKay said he suspects SAP America's shift toward a flatter organization, which was completed in January, contributed to Coote's departure, along with the fact that Coote had been with the company for a decade and probably wanted a change.
Now, six SAP America managers will report to McKay, who will also serve as president. "This is sort of a natural evolution of our structure," McKay said. SAP spent the past two years planning how to change management of business in America, Canada, and Latin America.
SAP America, with 5,800 employees, is responsible for between 43 and 47 percent of the firm's worldwide revenue.