Embed digital into company’s DNA now: Deb Deep Sengupta, SAP

Cloud will be one of the key foundations of digital transformation strategy for companies of all sizes, says SAP India chief Deb Deep Sengupta.

Feb 01st 2018

Digital Transformation is no longer a buzz word for the technology world as companies invest in SMAC and other technologies. As the market leader in enterprise application software, SAP is at the center of today’s business and technology revolution and helps companies of all sizes and industries run better, says Deb Deep Sengupta, President and Managing Director, SAP Indian Subcontinent. Edited Excerpts:

With the software-defined world becoming a norm across Indian enterprises, what will be the technology blueprint and business strategy for technology providers like SAP in 2018?

Technology adoption taking place at an unprecedented rate has, in turn, made the ROI even more critical for customers. We are at a stage where each and every offering needs to be uniquely customized to the customer’s requirements. The more you understand your customer, the better value you can deliver. 

SAP has been at the core of driving digital transformation across enterprises. Our strength in this segment comes from the fact that we create value for 365,000 customers across 26 industries globally, with our systems touching 76% of the world’s transaction revenue. So far, our expertise has helped us to successfully foresee trends driven by future-facing technologies, and have therefore driven value for our customers by helping them adapt quickly thereby putting them ahead of their peers.

Our vision remains consistent as we continue to focus on helping the world run better and improve people’s lives. We look forward to helping businesses and governments reimagine business through the power of integration of emerging technologies. We believe in the strength of our products and our expanding ecosystem to be the ultimate value drivers for our customers.

“The future-facing technologies like Big Data, AI, machine learning, advanced analytics, and blockchain will help us and our customers to move towards the ‘intelligent enterprise.”

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Deb Deep Sengupta, President & MD, SAP Indian Subcontinent

And you expect SMAC to impact the modern businesses more than ever before?

SMAC was a game changer for the Indian IT scene in early 2015 providing the IT industry with scalable, cost-effective and efficiency-driven solutions. This will continue going forward, with the synergies of these four technologies – social, mobile, analytics and cloud– channeling power to the Indian enterprises in their transformational journey.

However, things are set to change with the emergence of next-gen technologies like Big Data, AI, machine learning, advanced analytics, blockchain and others. These future-facing technologies will help us and our customers move towards the ‘intelligent enterprise’. These technologies will become more pervasive and in fact widespread in the coming year, thus playing an exponential role in our customers’ journey from ideation to reality. 

SAP has been upbeat on Cloud especially for the past couple of years. What according to you will be the key catalysts to accelerate its momentum in countries like India? 

Cloud was at the heart of our efforts ever since its emergence, with the SAP Cloud Platform underlying the recent initiatives, including SAP Leonardo, our latest digital innovation system. We are currently the second largest cloud company in the world, growing in triple digits as we speak.

Cloud fundamentally changes the way innovation is delivered, and companies are gradually realizing that aspect. The traction for cloud will continue to increase this year in India as well as abroad. Companies understand that cloud migration is critical for technological advances, data storage, and most importantly for seamless implementation of new-age technologies like IoT. It is especially bridging the gap the smaller organizations face while scaling up. We believe organizations, large and small, will see cloud as one of the key foundations of their digital transformation strategy.

Deb Deep Sengupta’s bucket list for CIOs

- High productivity and efficiency-led transformation across Indian businesses mean the time to ‘DO’ is now especially with shorter cycle times to success.

- Not only do CIOs and IT leaders need to fast-track the digitization, but they also need to constantly innovate at scale.

- CIOs and CTOs are quickly becoming Innovation officers as modern companies adopting digitization without innovation will surely wither.

- From design thinking to people, to business outcomes, understand various aspects of transformation journey to embed digital into their company DNA.

Do you foresee 2018 as the year of SAP S/4HANA? Any new offerings to help companies on their digital transformation journey? 

SAP empowers our customers to become digital businesses and help them address the challenges facing our world today. Ever since its launch in 2015, SAP S/4HANA has been at the heart of this strategy. With over 6,900 customers and more than 1,200 partners worldwide, SAP S/4HANA has been the digital core that is helping our customers create a truly Live Business.  

We launched SAP Leonardo portfolio exclusively for India last year, which is and will continue to be one of our prime offerings for our customers. We believe that Leonardo is a game changer in terms of providing a comprehensive platform for any organization’s digital transformation needs. It gives SAP a unique advantage and makes us the first player in our category to address our customers’ needs for rapid innovation that can scale across the entire organization. With HANA at our core, and Leonardo leading the reigns, we aim to create a thrust for business transformation among Indian enterprises.

Any Dos and Don’ts for CIOs and IT leaders with respect to their phygital (physical and digital) strategy in 2018?

Indian businesses are at a tipping point, requiring high productivity and efficiency-led transformation. The country is most likely to face rapid distribution and adoption of various general-purpose technologies and applications in the coming decade. 
However, the rate of change over the next three years will probably be greater than that in the previous fifteen years, making this an extremely volatile scenario. Hence, the time to ‘DO’ is now. With shorter cycle times to success, waiting for the right answer to come along would be a loss. 

Another important aspect would be innovation. Not only do IT leaders need to fast-track digitization, but they also need to constantly innovate at scale. CIOs and CTOs are quickly becoming innovation officers as companies adopting digitization without innovation will surely wither. Lastly, I believe it is the mindset that will set the leaders apart. Right from design thinking, to people, to business outcomes, digital leaders will need a sound understanding of various aspects of the transformation journey to embed digital into their company DNA. 

How will SAP suffice the needs of modern businesses’ customers in terms of technology innovation and business benefits? How will you leverage SAP’s channel ecosystem this year? 

Defeating complexity has been one of the top asks from our customers. Hence we made the bold move to go for Run Simple. Our customers are constantly looking at the most effective, efficient, and sustainable ways to solve their problems and emerge as a winner in this digital economy. The need of the hour is an integrated approach, coupled with a unique state-of-the-art platform across processes, products, and services. We want our customers to know the new ‘Open SAP’ as we are a platform company in the true sense and our latest offerings are a testament to the same. 

Our partner ecosystem is the lifeline that connects us and our customers. Our efforts for this year on the channel-front will be to continue empowering our partners to drive a successful SAP business, especially for our General Business (GB) customers. We will continue to expand our reach in the country through the ecosystem and strengthen them with our PartnerEdge program. 

Deb Deep Sengupta’s top picks for 2018

1.Internet of Things

2.Artificial Intelligence

3.Blockchain

If you were to pick your three tech bets for 2018, what would they be and why? 

C-suite executives had been realizing to a large extent in 2017 that IT is not just a part of the puzzle, but the final solution itself. 2018 will be the year when technology will practically force companies to re-invent themselves from scratch rather than re-engineering just their business processes. IT and businesses will need to truly become one to efficiently harness this power and turn it into a competitive advantage. 

IoT is a big trend in 2018.  A buzzword for the past few years with its extensive applications, especially in the consumer space, companies will start harnessing this technology for greater customer connect to improve brand value. Increasingly diverse usage coupled with the creation of dedicated platforms for specific industries, IoT will create a niche for itself, thereby becoming a necessity for enterprises to succeed in the digital economy. 

With automation in place through AI, enterprises will start to experience measurable benefits as mundane tasks will be automated, thereby helping the company and its employees focus their synergies on creating greater value through mindful innovation. 2017 witnessed endless conversations on the blockchain, from the hype and novelty, right down to its varied applications. With several experts betting on blockchain for collaboration and transparent ecosystems across industries and government systems, I believe the technology will move from conversations to actual action.