Acquisitions have helped us in our transition: SAP Labs India MD

K Giriprakash Bengaluru | Updated on December 01, 2019 Published on November 30, 2019

Sindhu Gangadharan, Managing Director of SAP Labs India   -  BL



The world’s leading enterprise software company SAP Labs has recently seen some changes at the top. In an interaction with BusinessLine, Sindhu Gangadharan, senior Vice-President, who took over as the Managing Director of SAP Labs India this September, shares her plans for the country and talks about how the Indian operation will now play a larger role in the company’s global scheme of things. Excerpts:

SAP Labs’ Bill McDermott who was the CEO of the global operations for a decade has left and two co-CEOs, Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein, have taken charge. In India, you have just taken over. How different will SAP Labs be after these changes?

Change is the only constant. Many acquisitions happened during McDermott’s time. Jen (Jennifer Morgan) and Christian (Klien) have a very good understanding of what our customers want and how we can make the vision of the intelligent enterprise a reality.

We told our customers that we will not just give them these technology pieces but also embed these technologies into the core of our business applications.  After Bill’s resignation and now we move on to Jen and Christian to take that forward. Our focus will be on engineering great products.

You can understand the kind of importance given to India from the fact that when I was taking over as the MD here, Christian was here in Bengaluru. Thomas Saueressig, who recently became a board member, was also here.

Companies like yours are transforming into a modern cloud computing enterprises, a difficult step. How is the transition?

We have also gone through that learning journey. During the last decade, we acquired companies which also were natively built out in the cloud. If you take a product like Concur, a market leader in travel and expense management, it was built natively in the cloud. For us, it was a huge value add.

At the same time, the transition from on-premise to cloud was not without challenges, but these acquisitions helped us forge that kind of connections compared with some of the competition which are still struggling.

There has been a major global restructuring and there have been reports about how nearly 4,500 employees are being let go. Will it impact India in any way?

We are not letting go of employees here. What happened in India is a part of a company-wide restructuring programme announced earlier this year. There were very specific profiles that needed to be built up in key growth areas to adapt to customer needs, and we were making sure that employees were adapting to newer skills that are needed.

We see India as a market with a huge potential for growth. This is also why we are changing the thinking around end-to-end product focus and how can we leverage the breadth of our product portfolio coverage we have.

The Indian government had mandated data localisation. How will it impact innovation?

We work across 180 countries where our customers are located. There are certain countries where there are clear legal requirements for data. We have a multi-cloud strategy where we work with top infrastructure vendors like Microsoft and AWS which means that wherever we operate we go with these infrastructure. If a customer is in a given location, we give them the option of choosing the infrastructure because our focus is on customers’ needs.

SAP Labs has invested around $1 billion in its Indian operations so far. Will there be more investments coming in and will you hire more people here?

We are building a second campus near the Bengaluru International Airport. It will take another five years to be completed. It means we are scaling up our operations. For us, India is a very important location. It is the only location where we have the entire breadth of SAP’s product portfolio. Globally, this is a huge strength.

India is very strategic and this reflects in our growth plan. We continue to hire people here. On an average, SAP Labs India hires approximately 600-800 new employees every year, out of which 50 per cent is accounted by college hires/early talent. The remaining is lateral and experienced hire. SAP in India has 13,000 employees and there are over 10,500 customers in our portfolio. We know India is a cost-sensitive market. We have a good understanding of the market needs. A lot of customers here are very progressive.

Published on November 30, 2019
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