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Digital transformation is no longer an option, it is essential for survival: SAP Labs India MD

K Giriprakash Bengaluru | Updated on May 02, 2020 Published on May 02, 2020

Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP and Managing Director, SAP labs India   -  BL

SAP Labs India is German enterprise software giant SAP’s second-largest development centre. SAP’s Indian operations have nearly 13,000 employees and over 11,000 customers, including 9,205 in the SME segment. In an interview with BusinessLine, Sindhu Gangadharan - Senior Vice President and Managing Director, SAP Labs India, spoke about how the company plans to transition through the difficult phase following the coronavirus pandemic. Excerpts:

Analysts are saying that the ‘new normal’ will be all about how tech companies engage with their clients. What are the major changes that you foresee post-Covid-19?

The Covid-19 situation abruptly pushed companies and employees to adapt to a new working model. In India, working from home was not widely accepted. However, overnight, customers and companies had to get comfortable with online communication, collaboration and delivery. In doing so, companies will realise that a digital transformation is no longer an option, but essential to their survival. They will also realise that only by transforming into an intelligent enterprise can they future-proof their operations against disruptions.

What are the initiatives that have been taken to maintain business continuity?

At SAP, our customers are always on top of our mind. With 77 per cent of the world’s transactions touching an SAP system, we’re ensuring that our customers’ business systems are always operational. SAP business, support, and cloud delivery teams have developed and documented business continuity plans to respond to disruptive incidents, such as Covid-19 while safeguarding the health of our employees and minimising the impact on the delivery of services to our customers. We have been entrusted by our customers to run their mission-critical business processes. Now, a majority of our employees are working from home, an option that we have provided to employees over the years, hence the transition was seamless. For business-critical work onsite, for example at our data centre locations, there are rotating schedules where a reduced number of designated people spend minimum time. We remain in constant contact with our large network of suppliers to maintain service levels. For our supply operational resources, we are focused on scheduling and in-office practices to reduce the impact of any potential event. We also maintain a database of updates and feedback from suppliers to ensure we can quickly locate and confirm documented information outlining the Covid-19 protocols and practices.

SAP’s digital supply chain solution, which reduces the inventory and working capital, improves profitability and customer services, could turn out to be a major engine for growth for the company. What kind of traction do you see for such a solution?

Digital supply chain management is a growing market. A report from Transparency Market Research anticipates the market for global supply chain management solutions to expand at a CAGR of 11.2 per cent during the forecast period from 2018 to 2026 and to reach a value of $32.9 billion by 2026. The benefits of our supply chain software include being able to provide customers with operational visibility and intelligence to manage their entire supply chain digitally, future-proof their business and execute flawlessly today.

Will SAP Labs in India look at salary reductions and job cuts. Will operations shrink considerably from here?

We put employees at the centre of everything we do; we hold our valued employees in our hearts and want to assure them that we have their backs as we deal with this crisis. We are fully committed to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of our employees. This is our top priority in order to maintain the business continuity needed to provide the support and service for the customers who rely on SAP. To paraphrase our CEO Christian Klein, it is important now for our employees to focus on our customers.

Will SAP Labs in India allow more employees to work from home post-Covid-19? What are the employee safety initiatives and collaborative tools for remote working that have been unveiled?

SAP Labs India has always been ahead of the curve when introducing forward-looking policies for employees. We were one of the earliest companies to introduce flexible working hours and work-from-home option. Before the lockdown was announced, we took proactive measures to safeguard the health and safety of our employees by making work-from-home mandatory and moving all our events and initiatives to virtual platforms. We make remote working easier through applications for communication, group work and data backup. To keep our employees’ spirits high, we have introduced SAP Come Alive initiative which delivers online fun, wellness and motivational programmes.

In your recent blog, you have mentioned that the future of work will have to be more agile, flexible and secure. What are the steps SAP is taking to ensure that this happens across the board?

At SAP, agility and flexibility have always been a part of the work culture. SAP has consistently been identified as an employer of choice due to the forward-looking and innovative policies that we have introduced in our journey towards becoming the workplace of the future. We have created a workplace where our employees can do meaningful and rewarding work. We understand that advances in artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and big data are making a profound impact on how we work, learn, communicate and collaborate, thus we are leveraging the power of these technologies to make our workplace more agile, flexible and secure.

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Published on May 02, 2020
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