Collaboration During Crisis: SAP Asia Pacific Japan’s Response to COVID-19

By Shinjini Chowdhury, Jennifer Beason

There aren’t many circumstances that can unite billions of people globally, but the global goal to eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic has done it. While the effort is admirable at a global scale, each community needs a localized plan to serve its specific needs. With 20,000 SAP employees in the Asia Pacific Japan (APJ) region, community-based relief efforts are in full swing, and employees are proudly leading programs to fight the direct and indirect effects of this disease.

Meet MS Rajesh, who is right now more commonly known in his community as the Corona Warrior. “People need to socially distance themselves. But this does not mean that they should remain silent,” he shares. Rajesh has been helping the police and local authorities in Bengaluru, India to spread awareness about hygiene and social distancing. He also distributes food to the underserved, including migrant laborers and homeless people.

It is estimated that more than 30,000 migrant laborers are stranded in Bengaluru alone. While the efforts of those including the Corona Warrior are admirable, there is strength in numbers. In collaboration with Rise Against Hunger and NASSCOM Foundation, the SAP offices in Bengaluru and Gurgaon, India have joined the pursuit, opening their kitchens to cook 1,300 hot meals a day. These efforts have reached more than 20,000 people in need throughout the month of April.

“Empathy is what drives us as a company,” says Scott Russell, SAP President, APJ. “It’s not just governments that are fighting COVID-19, because every single one of us has to confront the challenge as well.” In spirit and in action, SAP believes in being there for a better world, as professionals and as global citizens who have a deep commitment to Asia. Although we are facing a situation that is uncertain and unpredictable, we believe we will emerge as champions in the cause for humanity.

 Keeping Citizens Healthy

In times of crisis, people come first. We are opening access to technologies that can help employees, companies, communities, and governments continue to move forward. We also continue to use the power of SAP’s ecosystem to support individuals in need as well. Specifically, we are working to support our frontline healthcare workers. SAP employees across APJ have shown commendable passion in contributing to initiatives that are protecting the health of elderly citizens and other vulnerable people. For instance, in Japan, in partnership with Operation Blessing Japan, we are supplying more than 50,000 masks and 6,000 liters of disinfectant to 300 care facilities including hospitals and homes for the elderly.

Similar efforts to supply healthcare essentials including high-quality ventilators are taking place in India, together with NASSCOM Foundation, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and HelpAge India.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in several ASEAN countries facing a shortage of medical equipment. With dwindling supplies in Malaysia, the Government-Linked Companies (“GLC”) and Government-Linked Investment Companies (“GLIC”) Disaster Response Network (“GDRN”), together with various partners, worked out a way to streamline GLCs and GLICs support to assist the Ministry of Health. A digital solution was essential to orchestrate this effort which resulted in Ernst & Young Malaysia implementing SAP Customer Experience solutions, including SAP Sales & Service Cloud. The cloud solution, delivered within a week to GDRN, serves to provide optimum logistical support and response to organizations assisting the Ministry of Health in Malaysia for the supply of ventilators and protective equipment to hospitals and other health-related organizations. The application will also be instrumental in channeling pledges from institutions and individuals looking to contribute hospital-related items via an integrated platform.

Contributing Remotely

Each year, our employees help the world run better and improve lives in unexpected ways – even remotely. As Alexandra van der Ploeg, SAP’s global head of corporate social responsibility (CSR) shared, “SAP is making resources and expertise available to help our nonprofit and social enterprise partners effectively shift to remote operations. We want to help ensure they can maintain their much-needed services to their communities and not lay off staff.”

In partnership with the IMPACT2030 Council of Australia, SAP is sharing remote-working solutions and best practices with nonprofit and social enterprises. In addition to financial support from SAP CSR, Korean employees are fundraising with the Korean Red Cross to purchase anti-contamination clothing, face masks, and equipment for medical staff. In South-East Asia, SAP volunteers are assisting UNICEF using social media to amplify COVID-19 response efforts, while 60 SAP volunteers are virtually mentoring underserved youth for Head Held High in India.

Combating Fake News

Being well-informed and correctly so, goes a long way in keeping oneself safe from a pandemic. APJ Innovation Office launched Bridge-IT, an application that will collate information from trustworthy sources including The World Health Organisation (WHO), and combine it with specific country data, local government guidance, travel information and relevant company policies, to provide localised information for users. Available as a webpage or an Apple iOS application, Bridge-IT is available for free to all SAP employees and to all customers globally who have an SAP Cloud Platform Enterprise Agreement.

How can you help

From Fred Azis-Laranjo, an employee in Sydney who created posters to let his elderly neighbors know they could count on him for help, to the persistent efforts of the Corona Warrior and the chefs serving thousands each day in Bengaluru—every action matters. So how can you get involved? We’ve asked a few of our leaders for some ideas to get you started:

  1. “In the face of unprecedented stresses on the demand and supply of goods and services during the COVID-19 pandemic, collaborating amongst parties gives rise to synergies to alleviate the situation and provides aid to those in need.” – Rachel Barger, President and Managing Director, Southeast Asia
  2. “Send a note to your child’s teacher, principal, or frankly your collegiate alma mater to see if they can benefit from the education Remote Work Pulse Surveys from Qualtrics.” – Gunjan Patel, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, APJ
  3. “Reach out to a local nonprofit you have donated to or volunteered with in the past. Ask them how they are doing. Maybe they’re struggling to shift to the new ways of working, or they have a business challenge that you can help with. Even if they don’t need volunteers, they will appreciate knowing you care.” – Suranee Perera, Head of Employee Communications, ANZ
  4. “We can all be creative in many ways to help support those in need, and we can all help the community by staying at home as much as possible and social distancing.” – Chikara Sasamoto, Corporate Social Responsibility Lead, Japan
  5. “Help those who are helping us. My college friend is one of the countless medical staff working at our university hospital in Daegu, where most of the cases in Korea are concentrated. With some mutual friends, we sent energy bars, coffee, and vitamins under our friend’s name to cheer up his team.“ – Stacey Han, Head of Global Corporate Affairs, SAP Korea

This is a lesson in ambiguity for all of us, but we will get through it. Thank you once again to the SAP Purpose Network of employees, partners, and customers and most certainly our frontline workers, who continue to put purpose into action each and every day.