Thursday, 19 December 2013 00:00
The SAP TechEd 3-day conference in Bangalore featured product launches, technological education, and introduction to new movements in the tech world
By Kinita Shenoy in Bangalore
Spanning three days, with over 11,000 participants, 10,000 hours of technical training, and over 600 sessions daily, the SAP TechEd in Bangalore is an annual smorgasbord for all things in technical education.
This year’s event kicked off with SAP AG Products and Innovation Executive Board Member Dr. Vishal Sikka’s keynote. He used the metaphor of rivers as great connectors of societies over millennia for humanity and trade to come together. Rivers were a great platform, from the Ganges and Euphrates to the Seine and the Amazon. On the other hand, he added that the world has been transformed by software. What is the equivalent of a river in the world of software, to flow and connect?
Empowering the end user
Sikka stated: “At SAP we have been a great enabler of software over the past 43 years. Thinking about the nature of this transformation, and what our role is, we need to take a step back and realize that for centuries, technology goes through an interesting cycle. As technology grows more powerful, people can do more and value grows. The fundamental role of tech is to amplify and augment capabilities – to do more. The desire to build value in beautiful systems comes down to empowering the end user.”
Describing media as containers that help people express our thought and calculations, and HANA as the great software container for SAP’s clients, Sikka explained further: “It gets its power from being able to harness the massive power of modern processors with amazing abilities to compute and store data. It is far more than a database, it is a veritable platform for the entire ecosystem, with over 3.5 billion scans per second per core.”
Sikka added: “It is easy to get enamoured by technology. But we need to think about what that means. It boils down to the unprecedented power to connect machines. So what does that mean for us? How does it help amplify people? There are certain imperatives for us all – platforms, to reimagine applications, to think about new frontiers, an unprecedented value of real time to workloads, and an opportunity to not only simplify infrastructure under the applications but simplify the functionality.”
Delivering business value
Infosys Founder and CEO S.D. Shibulal factored into Sikka’s comments, stating: “Today we live in a very different world. The tech innovations we’ve had will allow us to have thousands of processes in a fraction of a second. How do you deliver business value through these innovations?”
Dr. Vishal Sikka extrapolated on HANA, mentioning that it had been three years and nine days since the genesis of the technology. He added: “There is a tremendous opportunity enabled by HANA being able to rethink applications in a non-disruptive way – it’s a completely new frontier.”
He added that the launch of SAP Ganges was a great endeavour to connect millions of retailers to CPGs and banks in India. Sikka asserted: “We have not seen anything in tech that simultaneously simplifies and enables existing technology non-disruptively.”
Bernd Leukert chimed into the discussion, adding that it was a great development not just for SAP, but for the whole IT software community as they invited partners, resellers and competitors for the next generation of applications in a predictive area. He stated: “A clear roadmap is articulated, and is the right strategy for all stakeholders. We are open to other companies leveraging our capabilities.”
SAP and Sri Lanka
SAP India and Subcontinent COO Deb Deep Sengupta commenced by outlining some background, explaining that SAP has a perception of being an ERP company. “Yet today, globally, less than one-third of our revenue comes from ERP. In 2010, when the new board took control, they set out the goal to be a $20 billion company by 2016. This was seen in both organic and inorganic growth in last 2 years, with more than 70 million cloud users and over $2 billion in revenue last year.”
He went on to state that SAP has been operative in Sri Lanka for many years, with customers across segments. Sengupta stated: “We also work with the Government of Sri Lanka, technological policy making, ICT policies, regenerative government purposes, simple mobile services, participation in various developing countries, and financial restructuring along with the World Bank to name a few. Our work with the Government also covers public services and government, central, tax, healthcare, including infrastructure and e-governance projects via help with ensuring financial controlling, visibility and monitoring and transparency.”
Sengupta added that corporates also benefit heavily, as most big Sri Lanka companies get their revenues from exports i.e. MAS, JKH. “Our job is to help these orgs compete on a global scale, as well as be cost-operative,” he explained.
Working with SMEs in Sri Lanka
Questioned as to how SAP works with SMEs in SL, he explained that in most countries, SMEs are of a certain revenue band. He said: “Today they may be SMEs and tomorrow large enterprises. Most of the SMEs in Sri Lanka are in retail, services, manufacturing or even plantations – small entrepreneurs growing very rapidly. The way we go about addressing this is to see which industry they belong to. There is an industry vertical and sub vertical, and our solutions work with our customers within their budget. So finally what happens, these SME customers’ requirements are industry based. We work with our partners to cater industry and project- specific solutions.”
Sri Lankan market
Sengupta also discussed his views on Sri Lanka as a market, explaining that despite having just started off in the country, SAP sees great potential.
“Looking across the region, there are not many economies that are growing at above 5% GDP. Our growth in Sri Lanka has also been accelerating as a consequence. We have a fairly large number of customers in the country, with plans for penetrating not only SMEs but government sectors. These range from telecom infrastructure and high capital intensity to management.”
Sengupta mentioned that Sri Lanka had the added benefits of a high level of IT awareness, and English as the prevalent business language, which makes the adaptation of SAP technology easier. Furthermore, Sri Lankan companies are fairly tech-savvy as the economy is outward-facing, with a lot of exposure to international best practices and expat workers, which also add to the positivity.
Overall, these factors added to the high rate of mobile penetration and technology adoption in Sri Lanka show an evolved picture compared to a lot of other emerging economies.
SAP’s work in Sri Lanka
Discussing SAP’s work in the country, Sengupta mentioned that MAS was one of the first companies in the region to use HANA. HANA itself is technology that decompresses the higher layers of solutions by merging databases and analytics via in-memory computing.
In terms of market development and market build for any technology adoption, sufficient awareness and education must be ensured. “We have aided capacity build via our education system in Sri Lanka, and our basic business model works through partners. For every dollar that SAP sells, our partner in the ecosystem makes 100$. Thus we invest in education, help develop our partners in the ecosystem who offer support to customers in the area, and carry out high level projects and initiatives,” stated Sengupta, adding that SAP-certified consultants are also better paid.
Touching on SAP’s work with the Government of Sri Lanka, Sengupta explained that they host awareness sessions, helping simplify bureaucracy, make processes faster, and automate issues such as passports and ID. Initiatives are also set up by international systems such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. SAP’s past experience includes its position as the cornerstone for all PPPs in India.