Cloud technologies are critical for businesses to weather Covid-19 crisis: Kulmeet Bawa, President & MD, SAP India


German enterprise software maker SAP aims to build a foundation of long-term value for its customers by exploring and developing new business models, trends, and technologies— – all through the lens of helping customers become intelligent enterprises, now and in the future.

Kulmeet Bawa, the new president & managing director, SAP Indian Subcontinent, emphasises that the impact of the pandemic on economy and businesses has been felt majorly by MSMEs across the country. “Our Global Bharat initiative is designed to enable MSMEs augment business operations and re-access critical processes that overcome inefficiencies and make them globally competitive by equipping them with digital technologies,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interview.

Interview excerpts:

What are your key priorities for SAP India?

With a strong and rich history of innovation for more than 48 years, SAP is at an inflection point of becoming a “true cloud company” which is most critical in today’s context. I am a firm believer that cloud technologies are instrumental for businesses in processing Big Data and developing new business models. The need to be digital and doing it agilely on the cloud is imperative.

Our aim is to elevate customer experience and make it easier to not only have access to the right solutions but also the business values that can help them run better. SAP is in a unique position to deliver the software for integrated, end-to-end business processes like in a suite. SAP’s business technology platform (BTP) helps customers turn their data into business value.

How is SAP helping companies transition to cloud solutions during the pandemic?

SAP globally has evolved into the leading cloud company by growing its cloud business from €100 million in 2009 to €7 billion in 2019. Our cloud solutions and platforms drive our fast-growing business and our cloud revenue in 2018 overtook our net-new on-premise license business.

We have helped customers reduce costs and strengthen control with user-friendly procurement and contract management tools thus strengthening their financial supply chain through accounts payable automation and working capital optimisation. Along with Ariba, our acquisitions of Qualtrics and Success Factors are helping customers make this shift to the cloud in a seamless manner. Qualtrics has been a great success and has outperformed our expectations with 2019 growth in excess of 40%. This enabled us to support customers in every step of the way by generating insights from a combination of operational (O) and experience (X) data.

Given the demographic advantage and technology resources available in India, we have the potential to leapfrog with automation and digitisation. SAP gives customers full choice to transition to the cloud at their own pace:

  • Public cloud, private cloud, on-premise, and hybrid solutions
  • Full integration of applications with core ERP software, cloud or on-premise.

What technology do you foresee emerging as a lifesaver for MSMEs?

As a market leader in enterprise application software with 80% of our customer base in India being in the SME segment, SAP understands the requirements of emerging businesses and offers an innovative range of solutions. These options are around business models, faster implementations, deployment models or across industry functionality – all of this which enables emerging businesses meet their current and future requirements.

We have been working towards enhancing the digital journeys of the MSMEs and support them with relevant technologies and skills. We opened access to SAP solutions for various organisations who need help to continue their business like Ariba. The platform will allow MSMEs to connect with buyers and suppliers thus helping them gain access to the marketplace.

With the Global Bharat initiative, SAP is supporting Indian SMEs to gain scale and be globally competitive in the new environment. The programme is designed to enable MSMEs, augment business operations and re-access critical processes that overcome inefficiencies and make them globally competitive by equipping them with digital technologies.

What are your plans to overcome the challenges thrown by Covid-19 to businesses and markets?

SAP remains committed to its long-term strategy and prospects and will continue to invest in innovation. We expect to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis in an even stronger competitive position than before.

Our multi-year emphasis on building a strong base of more predictable revenue has made SAP more resilient than ever. Combined with an even more prudent expense management and a continued focus on innovation we will weather the Covid-19 crisis and emerge stronger than before as we have done in past downturns. Our updated guidance demonstrates that even in this challenging environment SAP remains healthy and stable.

This article was originally featured on Financial Express