SAP president of Asia Pacific and Japan, Adaire Fox-Martin is extremely bullish about business opportunities arising from the Indian market; a region where she feels businesses are turning confident and view information technology as a strategic enabler to grow business and better connect with customers. “In Asia, we saw tremendous growth in our business and India was no exception in this last year. The government is working towards building a digital India where innovation, research and technology will play a major role. Among the government agencies, technology is now viewed strategically as more important than ever before. It is less about just discussion and more about the execution. That’s a big change,” she tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interaction. Excerpts:
What are you most excited about in the tech space at the moment?
I have to admit that as a leader in Asia, I feel very bullish about India. We can see businesses turning confident and we are having different levels of discussions than we had previously. I feel it is the transformation of the industry I am most excited about, because SAP is actually playing a leading role in this transformation. Our industry is at a time of great transition and it is how we really help customers enable their own business more effectively. The first big one for us so far has been the transition to the service and to the cloud.
In Asia, we saw tremendous growth in our business and India was no exception in this last year. Also, I think the entry level or entry needs particularly in markets like India is something that’s very exciting in terms of the prospect and it is an opportunity for us. We had Innovation Express that we took across the country and the feedback from that was phenomenal. The actual result in business in sectors that we hadn’t engaged on occasions was very positive. With the whole S/4 HANA process underway, it is going to give us the opportunity to reinvent ERP the same way that we did when we released R/3 many years back.
Talk to us about some of the recent developments on the performance of SAP HANA and the business impact in the market.
When I look at SAP HANA, what is interesting to me is the journey that we have been on and interacting with fresh customers for SAP HANA who were non-SAP customers. They were organisations that saw the possibility that In-memory offered them and the opportunity that it presented for them to create new paradigms in their business. So, the journey that we have been on has always been about improvement of technology and improving the technological base.
In Asia, I have the opportunity to lead a company that is developing such world class and highly valued technology. We have now over 120 use cases here in Asia of companies that have taken their business to new levels. We have been able to address certain aspects of their business that they could not address before and that has been an incredible journey to go on with customers. There’s been a lot of exciting additions to the products. I think ultimately you want to make a difference for customer outcome.
Where do you see the increase in technology spending coming from?
SAP operates across 25 industries and some industries are core industries. These are industries where we are in a very strong market position and where we continue to innovate with customers on the SAP platform. Examples of core industry would be the energy sector and the utility sector.
The second group of industries is the strategic industries. The opportunity in the market is still very large at SAP. In the strategic industry group there is public sector, financial services, banking and insurance, telco and retail. These four industries are going to be a core source of revenue opportunity for us.
The last category of industry is the category that we call incubation. Incubation industry is the industry where because of the technology footprint that we now live out of and the broader conversation that we can have with participants in our industry. For example, we can talk about the sports industry. Sports became our 25th industry in the very recent past and is an incredible industry in terms of the reach to consumer as this industry has the opportunity to run a huge amount of data and add value to their prognosis. We are sponsoring ICC World Cup in Australia over the next few weeks. Healthcare is another incubation industry. Big Data can have a huge impact on healthcare.
What is your perspective about the Indian market? Government has announced major plans to adopt technology at various levels…
I think the opportunity that India has in front for its citizens is incredible. There are lots of interesting things that you can do in terms of creating a smart city, but there are also some fundamental things that I think will blend very well to the SAP story. In the world the largest SAP portfolio is in Mumbai. That city is very transparent, very accountable in terms of how it manages its public funds and how it delivers service to its citizens as a result of the SAP retention there.
I will tell you one of the things I am very confident about as I have been in India for 15 years now. One of the words that I loved very early is that the India government always chose e-governance as opposed to e-government. That’s a very core distinction right? 15 years ago our company could come to India and have the best discussions ever on e-governance and what it meant, but a lot of it was power front, but today there is a real sense that we will have these discussions or we will execute it. It is less about just discussion and more about the execution. That’s a big change.
Internet of Things (IoT) has become an important topic today? How will it have an impact on businesses in the near future?
In terms of the first point, yes we are focused on the Internet of Things and we do see the opportunity to create and you look at which industries have gone first for us; it is primarily been utilities and healthcare and automotive. I thought that will be no surprise.
Again, I think the IoT can actually enable almost an endless possibility of imagination. For example, we have one project in Europe that we call Connected Cows where we literally connected cows. What happens is the small device, very cheap device that is fitted on a cow and the purpose of this device is to detect hormonal levels in the animal. Apparently when the cow has a calf to deliver the hormonal levels change. GPS tags help locate the cow and then they can actually bring the cow from the field into the barn or wherever they choose to deliver. So it is a very simple application, but it kind of gives you the idea. I mean who would ever connect cows, but the idea of the application for them is great.
I think what we are very excited about is the fact that IoT generates a whole series of data that results in one sensor talking to another, one sensor talking to a human and all sorts of different levels of connections there. That data has value and that value has to be unlocked.