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CIOs lead digital transformation in modern era


Digital transformation is the next big wave for organizations.  SAP with its innovation both organically developed as well as acquired is right at the center of companies’ digital transformation journey.  We are the only company bringing all the newer pieces around big data, IoT together to provide the innovative framework for the client’s end-to-end digital transformation, said Mark Ferrer, COO and executive vice president, SAP Global Customer Operations. “The rapid change of technology is good for the consumer. But CMO or CIO have to get ahead of the pace of change because it is closely tied to company’s performance than it has ever been, he told CIO India on an India visit.

In a lot of ways. The buyer traditionally has been ERP buyer which was the CIO maybe the CFO. Today our buyers have evolved into LOB managers, CFOs, CMOs, CHROs. And interestingly we find more and more that heads of digital at companies directly reporting to the CEOs and not always through CFOs. It requires a different set of specialized skills at our end to speak to CHROs or CMOs or head of commerce.

The buying behavior has altered too as modern customers’ desire quick time to value and elastic pricing. Cloud from adoption perspective is exploding everywhere. Our cloud performance has been phenomenal particularly for a business as big as ours. Organizations today demand more of cloud-like buying experience to move from capex to an opex environment.

The days of two or three year implementations are over. Even if the company undergoes total refresh, they look for quick wins and often want to break the one big transformation project into multiple projects. SAP is constantly exploring ways to be better enabled with our clients and provide that buying experience. Because there is a new set of buyers and there is a new paradigm of buying pattern.

This doesn’t changed tech landscape places the CIOs on the back foot in their organisations.Infact CIOs are the enablers bringing all the disparate pieces together and managing the data flow across them. The new-age CIOs are more business oriented than I have ever seen. And the working relationships between CIOs, CMOs and other LOBs has never been better. They no longer work in silos. In today’s world it is much more of a collaborative relationship as all stakeholders view the business holistically.

Secondly C-suite executives are aware that CIOs today have acute business sense to facilitate them to run the business – uninterrupted and efficiently. The control has shifted back in a sense as CIO has a seat at the table to an equivalent level to LOB executives during their meeting with company’s CEO.

There are certain  rules or guidelines ‘cast in stone’ for modern organizations to embark a successful digital economy.These include firstly, everybody wants a mobile like experience and they want it to be intuitive. Clearly with SAP Fiori (provides a role-based experience across all lines of business, tasks and devices) and our new products are very much oriented towards an intuitive user experience. The second aspect in the digital economy is data and its management irrespective of the industry. Whether it is IoT wherein the data comes off a tractor or car or whatever it may be.

Companies should strike the right balance of these two pieces with a priorities list -whether a people centric business or it is commerce. With all the change happening in India around commerce and e-commerce, there is a rapid rush to provide robust commerce solutions in electronic easy to use fashion.

Digital Core with a strong back end system has been our heritage. SAP S4HANA has been growing phenomenally. From a technology stand point, many of our customers are still on back levels of ERP getting a new experience on the digital core that allows companies to manage the different pieces in the system.

With SLAs becoming much stricter and RoI centric, the emergence of cloud for modern companies  depends on where you are in the cloud world. But most companies now realize cloud as the primary route for lot of company’s functions. There is however hesitancy particularly around areas where they feel to have the competitive advantage – whether private or public cloud.

SAP private cloud business is growing extremely fast as more clients approach us to drive them towards innovation much faster. Seizing that big opportunity is very important for us. Cloud is much beyond pricing structure as it’s that quick time to innovation and that quick time to value for the modern customers. And the private cloud provides that alternative.

Today will be the least amount of change that companies will ever go through. The change will only get faster. And launching solution or product that takes six months into the marketplace is not acceptable.

Managing the data securely is crucial as integrating the core pieces of business can lead to cyber problem. But the biggest concern is how connecting — and this is where we really come into play – their business customers or customers’ customers all the way for an end to end real-time experience with effective data management for the consumers.

Nobody waits for five seconds response time? Nobody waits for a report that takes three or six months to produce?  Everything today has to be in the real time.

Discreet manufacturers are now becoming data companies. We work with a retailer who is becoming a retail banking company and they are looking for SAP banking solutions.

From GTM side, we have oriented our teams around the new trends in the industry. For big data projects across most geographies, data scientists assist and manage Hadoop, social, internal data, multiple source of data and different formats of data. Bringing everything together varies by the industry. It’s the same for IoT conversation that is not limited for discreet manufacturers. Companies manage the data and add value to provide a service experience for repeat value for consumers over competition.

All of these tech trends are exploding and we are at the center point of the market transition. That’s why HANA has been one of our best innovations which delivers these technologies in real time. The ability to manage different formats of data securely in real time powered by HANA has been the cornerstone of our conversations with the clients.

Collaboration with partners around HANA is a critical component to our success. Be it silicon graphics, HP, IBM for name few of the many hardware OEMs. HANA cloud platform has the ability to extend apps in a simple way using a standard stack, leveraging open source, connecting into Hadoop that allow to build extensions – even around old platforms – and provide performance.

Across all of our acquisitions in the portfolio, we probably tripled our addressable market through both acquisition and innovation. I am responsible for each market in determining the best approach to serve our clients effectively and efficiently through our solutions.

In today’s global economy, India with 7 plus percent GDP growth is vital. The new change in government is very positive for tech providers because of the digital initiatives announced. We have 8000+ people in India which is our second largest location across the globe.


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