“Grow with SAP is a main mantra for us”: Vivek Malhotra, SAP India

In talks with DQ Channels Vivek Malhotra, Vice President—General Business & Global Channel highlights the focus areas and discusses about partner packaging factory which enable partners to grow with SAP.

Vivek Malhotra, Vice President—General Business & Global Channel

What were some of the new developments for SAP this past year?

From my business perspective, SAP has done very well in 2017. Global Channels & General Business continues to be a growth engine for us in the country. We are continuously growing in terms of revenue and also acquiring more customers.

For our good books, a big credit goes to mid market segment. Out of our 9000+ customers a major chunk i.e 80% of them belongs to SME customers, which is categorized as General Business (GB) vertical.  In 2017, we’ve acquired the largest ever number of net new customers that we ever did for the GB line of business. And we will continue to acquire many net new customers every year. What we intend to do is going beyond metro cities. SAP will continue the activities to acquire new customers across industries and across geographies.

In the non-metro space, we’ve identified around 20 odd high focus clusters; which are a mix of different industries. We are collaborating closely with lot of industry associations & communities and thus gradually increasing penetration into that market. And it’s not only about us increasing our business, but we are also providing our customers a structured way of working. It takes a good amount of training and our GTM primarily in the GB space is based on channels ecosystem, which is well equipped and trained.

Will there be any change in the GTM strategy this year?

Our plan primarily is to be 100% channel-led for our General business vertical. We currently operate completely through channels in the entire non-metro space and it also includes some of the good chunk of metro space. We have considerably strengthened our partner ecosystem. We are planning to continue this momentum and from the 100 plus performing partners currently, we look forward to doubling it by the end of 2018.

As I mentioned, we are working on strengthening the channel ecosystem, ensuring that they have the right amount of skills to not only engage with the customer but also enabling them to provide the right full-services to the customers, so that the dream that the customer has in terms of implementing SAP and the outcome they are looking for turns into reality easily.

In addition to this, we have partner enabling programs, such as the SAP PartnerEdge program. Under this initiative; our partners are invited on a regular basis to send their employees to be enabled on how to go about pitching SAP, on how to go about doing the implementation. We have trained a very large number of partners over the last couple of years and we will continue to do so. 

Please elaborate what is partner packaging factory?

Partner Packaging Factory primarily is an approach. With the help of it, we identify sub-segments in an industry, look at the solution that the partners have rolled out for their customers, and then take those specific solutions to that specific industry sub-segment for a faster roll out.

And who are designing those solutions?

These solutions are primary designed by the SAP partners, along with the implementation methodology. We help them develop a story line where they templatize it, so that they can have a faster deployment. For example, couple of months back we had created a storyline around GST-in-a-box; which is a bundled solution with all the end to end elements required for the customers. It included the hardware, the SAP S/4HANA solution as well as the entire lifecycle of the implementation. With GST-in-a-box, what we worked towards was that in about 10 to 12 weeks’ time, the customer would go live on these solutions. So, you’re talking about a customer making a purchase today, starting the implementation tomorrow and in 90 days, ready to go out into the market. So that’s what GST-in-a-box was, and that’s the direction where we are taking our Partner Packaging Factory to. We have close to around 30 odd solutions in the spaces of SAP S/4HANA, SAP SuccessFactors, CRM and others, which are ready for different industries, and different industry sub segments.

How many partners are there right now in this factory?

There are close to eight to ten partners who are part of this initiative. We are aiming to increase the count. The partners create a package and take it to the customers with minimal amount of changes that would need to be done on that. The basic aim of partner factory is to give faster implementation cycle and also helps the partners reduce the TCO for the customer.

What are the criteria to choose the partner to be in the factory?

We basically pick up those partners who have had some successful implementations in certain specific industries and industry sub-segments. Primarily, the focus is around the industries that they operate in and whether those solutions are replicable by nature or not. And those solutions should be such, which could be able to taken to the multiple customers in the specific industry across in metros and non-metros.

What are the challenges that MSME segment is still facing?

The challenges that MSMEs primarily face are about the resource and the skill being available in their respective locations. And with our Bharat ERP program that we launched about two quarters back, we’re trying to solve that problem. What it means is that in those locations, we did a tie up with the Ministry of MSMEs. They have around 32 tool rooms across in the country, almost one in each state capital.

We are in the process of going ahead and setting a ‘Train the Trainer’ lab in those tool rooms. We have picked up five key tool rooms, where we’re making experts. These experts are further training the local people present in that territory. We are expecting to digitally enable nearly 30,000 MSMEs and youth in the next three years as the program expands. We have a very large skill base, and we’re looking to increase it multi-fold as we move on.

Can you tell us more about SAP Leonardo, especially from MSMEs point of view?

SAP Leonardo is basically a next generation solution, which helps a customer with predictive analytics in some format using the next-generation technologies such as IoT, blockchain, machine learning, big data analytics and others. With respect to MSMEs, they are still are at a stage where they’re getting on to implementations of ERP, so I am not sure, how soon will we see them starting to utilize SAP Leonardo as an offering. It’s a little while away. We are eager to take this in that space as soon as possible.

In your opinion, what are the verticals that are adopting technology very fast?

The manufacturing and discrete manufacturing sectors continue to be on the top, and that’s what the ‘Make in India’ story line also talks about. We’re also seeing the significant amount of adoption in our space coming into the services industries. So, we’ll start seeing that coming in as we move along with our newer offerings, which will get launched shortly.

And how is the SAP accelerated program progressing?

It’s progressing well. Beyond the program, we are also working with quite a few start-ups in the country to build up apps on top of the SAP Cloud Platform which can help enhance the productivity and efficiency of our customers. It’s a very important area of focus for us, and as we walk down that path, it’s making us a lot more flexible, agile and nimble in terms of the offerings that we give to our customers, or the start-ups can give to the customer in the market today.

In terms of partners and business what will be your focus point for 2018?

So, ‘Grow with SAP’ is a main mantra for us. With respect to partners, our key focus would be enhanced reach into the market. Our key focus would continue to be working towards enabling partner to get higher margins, and make sure our partners look forward to having our business being a lot more relevant.

We will also continue to grow in the non-metro space, expanding the partner ecosystem, and continuing to ensure that we embrace cloud a lot more. Our cloud contribution has grown up significantly and faster than market. So, those would be the key focus areas for us as we move on in 2018.

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