CASE IN POINT | SAP
by Andrew Ngozo
Tapping into the Cloud for Business
Today’s Cloud is about driving business innovation and agility, enabling new processes and deriving business-relevant insights that were previously impossible, according to SAP Africa’s Chris Willcocks, Director Cloud and Lines of Business, SAP Africa. For any organisation considering a move to Cloud, there are some critical considerations that need to be factored in: amongst others, a well-defined business strategy is a prerequisite. Cloud can then be leveraged to assist with the effective execution of that strategy.
SAP is the Cloud built for business. SAP’s market-leading technology solutions deliver the innovation and agility companies need to extend existing infrastructure to enable new processes (and insights) and quickly adapt to keep pace in today’s fast-changing world.
Africa is an important strategic growth market for SAP and the company’s Cloud Portfolio is significantly assisting organisations of all sizes on the African continent to effectively implement their business strategies in an ever-changing and dynamic economy.
Key to SAP’s approach to the Cloud is that it is about giving customers choice. Co-innovating and partnering with a customer to truly understand their needs is critical for SAP. Not every business is ready to move the Cloud yet. For companies that have built their business and competitive advantage on their existing technology infrastructure, ripping and replacing things is not only impractical, but unnecessary. The beauty of the Cloud is that it’s designed to empower businesses to exponentially extend their existing on-premise apps and IT infrastructure to enable new innovative business processes, gain greater insights and unlock new value for the business at a pace that fits the business in question.
A Turnkey Solution
Thirty five million business users already use SAP Cloud, seamlessly integrating with their on-premise solutions and maximising business agility. Organisations can ill-afford not to adopt this business enabler that allows for agility and innovation, especially during an era in which businesses are fast becoming digital businesses, he points out. Apart from allowing businesses to meet their requirements and realise more as regards their strategic objectives and outcomes, companies can implement, innovate, and adopt new solutions without significant upfront costs. “This is precisely what we do at SAP. Our systems and infrastructure are already in place and the client does not have to purchase these upfront, but rather on a subscription basis. As a service provider, we provide a turnkey solution for clients,” Willcocks emphasises.
SAP’s cloud strategy is one that adds value for the client, for a number of reasons. Willcocks points out that, with SAP, the client can rest assured that services will be delivered by a trusted and experienced business partner. “Clients get the best of the breed cloud, which allows them to reap manifold benefits. Right now, you can manage your entire business – HR, finance, customers and procurement – in the cloud with the most comprehensive cloud computing portfolio on the market, he reveals. SAP’s strategy is such that it allows for transformational integration, that is, a client can choose to implement on premises to cloud, from cloud to cloud, or from third party to cloud. Further, it allows flexible and secure deployment, be it for public, private or managed service offerings.
Willcocks explains the many ways in which SAP maximises the cloud for clients. “We can tailor the cloud for customer, social-media analytics and channel management. This means that the solution can track and monitor social-media activities, draw competitive advantage from ‘big data’, grow consumer insights, increase customer loyalty, and handle social-media requests as well as end-to-end integration into customer service processes.” With respect to customers and sales, SAP cloud solutions allow organisations to engage and mobilise business-to-business (B2B) field sales and gain customers across the board. Through the SAP Cloud for Travel and Expenses, they can control these and thereby achieve cost reductions, improve employees’ travel experiences, as well as permit faster reimbursements. He adds: “The HANA Enterprise Cloud offers the value of a real-time enterprise powered by SAP HANA, combined with the simplicity of the cloud.” These are just a few of the many ways that clients’ cloud experiences are maximised.
The Cloud as a Choice
As adoption of the cloud continues to increase, the way organisations use such services is also evolving, indicates Willcocks. Many companies are already implementing a business strategy, leveraging the cloud wherever it is the best fit. According to him, there are certain trends that organisations need to think about when embarking on the cloud journey. The cloud is business. The world around us is changing, and IT needs to be the innovator. The cloud is thus recognised as facilitating ‘speed to market’ – and for its ability to drive business agility, he notes. “This is because the cloud supports rapid experimentation and innovation by allowing companies to quickly try, and even adopt, new solutions without significant upfront costs. New cloud solutions can help businesses to understand their customers’ unique challenges, industry and preferences and help them to apply new agile approaches to achieve their business objectives.”
‘How secure is the cloud?’ is a question that is often a topic of many business conversations. In reality, Willcocks says, besides being very safe and secure, the cloud delivers a consistent user experience. “By changing the way people interact with technology, the cloud enables new forms of consumer engagement, expands collaboration across the value chain, and brings innovation to companies’ core business models.” The other trend – and huge benefit to watch out for – is the ability of the cloud to provide real-time and predictive information. This gives business users the insight to assess a myriad of scenarios in order to determine the right course of action – and then have the agility to be able to adapt to, or capitalise on, these changes with a cloud platform that provides the base for such innovation and agility.
More and more businesses are tapping into the cloud, with statistics showing that more than 75% of new IT expenditure will be for cloud or hybrid systems by 2016, and that more than 70% of chief information officers will embrace a ‘cloud first’ strategy by 2016. For the organisation, the question at the top of mind for decision makers is: Have we embraced the cloud in our business strategy, and with a trusted and experienced business partner?