In this interview recorded live at Financials 2014 in Orlando, SAP's Karuna Mukherjea discusses the latest trends in SAP EPM with NTT Data's Dmitry Faybysh. The conversation covers:
- A review of NTT Data's in-house SAP EPM platform
- The impact of mobility on SAP EPM use
- The capabilities delivered by NTT Labs
- SAP EPM's move to the cloud and the cost benefits involved
- The advantage of leveraging focused SAP EPM consultants
Karuna: Hi my name is Karuna Mukherjea. I’m right here at the SAPinsider event in Orlando and joining me today is Dmitry.
Dmitry: Hi, good morning. Dmitry Faybysh, I’m with NTT, vice president of NTT Data and we’re primarily focused on EPM and the extended analytics platform, so…
Karuna: Thank you for being with us Dmitry, it’s always a pleasure to work with NTT on the EPM space. So what are you doing here at the event? Do you have a booth, do you have presentations?
Dmitry: It’s a very exciting event for us so we’re doing a lot of innovations, we’re meeting with a lot of customers here, and we’re talking about EPM but not in the way we used to talk about it. We’re talking about it from a mobile platform, I mean we’re talking about it from a BI perspective, we’re talking about it from a master data governance perspective. These are all items that we never—it used to be a point solution and now it’s an entire platform so it’s pretty exciting. We’re doing a lot of—we’re actually doing a few presentations here—the best practices for the entire platform. We’re doing a presentation on the mobile, on wired with EPM and getting a really nice reception from our customers and focusing on attending the conference.
Karuna: You know I think you bring up an interesting point, right, I mean I think the planning world is evolving. People are starting to see a lot more interest in the BI space, they want to leverage their SAP BI tools with planning. They want to leverage other technologies like predictive with planning. I know your team has done some interesting work around that if you don’t mind sharing it with the audience.
Dmitry: Absolutely! Yeah, so we’ve actually installed an entire platform at our NTT labs and it has a predictive component and it has the BI, mobile and wired all connected to this EPM PPC solution. What’s great about it is the cycles that used to take four months for budgeting can now take four weeks and it’s constantly repetitive. You can change drivers on the fly, flush it through the entire model, see the results almost immediately. Your sales folks used to come through Excel, they don’t like Excel, now they got a mobile device, so they got a BI report that they can go to a website or an iPad, enter their volumes, enter their, you know, pricing and do their budgets and forecast on the fly. It all hooks into BPC and it’s that one version of the truth … it’s pretty cool.
Karuna: You know, you mentioned your NTT labs a couple of times and I think that’s an interesting concept that you have … so tell us a little bit about it.
Dmitry: We have, basically, state of the art labs that we’ve installed and new technology with our servers and our hosting environment. What we do is actually ask our prospects and customers to test drive some of their models, some of their applications, and they go in, we put in their models, we put in their data, we show them the speed, we show them the functionality, we show them how to add value from day one so before they even buy, it’s proven out. The value is there, it’s great, and also it lowers their risk, you know, the risk of buying, the risk of the implementations, and they see what they’re getting so it’s not kind of like a pie in the sky. It’s more of a “Here’s the real solution.”
Karuna: And I know you work very closely with us, both from a marketing standpoint, solution management—so I know that it’s almost like we’re in sync from a vision perspective, you know, where we want to take our customers not only from an adoption standpoint but really the business value that we want them to get from our solutions. Another key area where we’re seeing a lot of interest is in this managed services, and I know you briefly talked about it the last couple days—as to how you’re slowly getting into the whole MCaaS space. Is that something you can share with us?
Dmitry: Yeah, so there’s a big push in the market to go into the cloud and hosted solutions, and NTT’s got a very large data center, and what we’re doing is leveraging that data center to offer customers an MCaaS model of EPM, and it includes the whole suite, and so when we demo a product to a customer, it’s like “Hey, here’s what you’re getting.” It’s the entire suite of BPC on HANA, with mobile, with BI and master data governance, and then for some reason they don’t want one or two pieces we kind of pluck it out and just give them the solution that they’re looking for. It’s a subscription model. It’s a three- or five-year model, it’s whatever the customer’s looking to do, and, you know, it’s gaining a lot of traction. I mean it’s a great opportunity for a customer to change their cost structure from a capital expenditure to an operating expense and spread it over, let’s say, a three or five or whatever the timeframe would be … and they don’t have to worry about their IT, you know, we kind of handle a lot of their IT and their ongoing support so it’s a good solution for quickly getting up and running, you know, with everything kind of preconfigured.
Karuna: I think that’s an interesting use case, right? I mean a lot of companies as you said, they want the benefit of it instantly, and by going with an MCaaS model with NTT will definitely get them that. So I know NTT has a very strong presence in the U.S. but globally where else can customers leverage NTT services?
Dmitry: Well, NTT is a global company. I mean, I think they’re an $18 billion organization. The U.S. is big—at about 8,000 consultants, and globally I want to say it’s like 25,000 plus or minus, I don’t know the exact figures but they’re very big in the offshore market in India, Europe, Asia, South America—so it’s a very global market, and there’s a presence just about everywhere—Australia, we’re doing a few things in Australia as well.
Karuna: And you have dedicated EPM consultants which I think is a key point for our customers that they are getting people who understand the solutions, who know how to implement and have the experience that goes with it.
Dmitry: Yeah, and not just dedicated but deep expertise. We have a ton of depth and breadth. I’ve personally been working with this product since 2001 and, you know, not just the expertise with the products but the right background—like a lot of our folks are CPAs and MBAs, and so we hire, like, a CFO-type of profile with technical backgrounds, and we’ve seen a lot of different best practices and we try to share those with our customers, you know, so …
Karuna: Yes! Awesome! I’m going to switch gears a little bit and get your perception of the event, right, I mean as you know this is a very important event for us, that SAPinsider holds for us, and we bring in a lot of customers focused on finance, not just EPM or analytics but the larger area of finance, so would you like to share some thoughts from a perception standpoint, where you see value at an event like this?
Dmitry: Well, first of all there’s so much energy at this event, it’s amazing, there’s a big buzz going around as opposed to prior years, it’s just a buzz from everybody, not just from just the accounting folks, but also the sales, the marketing—we met a lot of the operational folks, and it’s a credit to the solution that’s expanded outside of just a point solution from accounting to being a platform for the organization. It’s a reporting platform. So we’re seeing a lot of buzz around that, just a lot of energy around new innovations, more integration, more prebuilt content that we’re talking to customers, and again, we’re test driving some of their solutions.We’re building out industry-focused solutions for our customers.
Karuna: Excellent! Well, thank you so much for being here at the event with us, thank you for being such a good partner, and we look forward to having continued partnerships the rest of the years, so thank you. Thanks!
Dmitry: Thanks Karuna! Thank you!