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Live from SAPinsider Studio: Sanjay Das of IBM on Digital Reinvention

March 24, 2016


Sanjay Das of IBM, HANA & Analytics Leader for Europe, joins SAPinsider Studio at the 2016 BI-HANA-Iot event to discuss the technical side of a digital reinvention. Topics of this discussion include the importance of a digital transformation to stay relevant in today's economy, SAP S/4HANA as the digital core, and how hybrid cloud can help companies tackle some of the challenges of becoming a digital enterprise.

This is an edited version of the transcript:

Ken Murphy, SAPinsider: Hi, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider. I’m at the SAPinsider BI-HANA-IoT event in Las Vegas. This afternoon, I’m pleased to be joined by Sanjay Das, who is the IBM HANA & Analytics Leader for Europe. Sanjay is here to talk to us today about the technical steps to take in becoming a digital enterprise. Sanjay, thanks for being with us.

Sanjay Das, IBM: Thank you for having me.

Ken: Can you discuss why it’s important today to take steps to becoming a digital enterprise?

Sanjay: The position the world is in, it’s a situation of survival. We’re hearing the world is under digital disruption, the 4th Industrial Revolution. Essentially the prediction what we’re seeing over the next 4-5 years a lot companies won’t even survive if they’re not on the right path. And the path is becoming digital. There’s a term “Digital Have More” – hence, it is a question of avoiding the digital disruption to self-destruct and of course to improve what the existing business is as well.

Ken: At this event there’s a lot of discussion about SAP S/4HANA in that capacity. How does SAP S/4HANA help SAP customers on that journey toward becoming digital enterprise?

Sanjay: The first thing is, for an existing customer – has got certain problems with respect to the challengers who will be more agile, have less baggage and start having the latest IT infrastructure, etc. However, the existing company has a big advantage and that advantage is having the data because they’ve been doing business for so many years and are sitting on 20-25 years of data about their customers, products, market, and that’s a huge asset. On top of it, what they can do is integrate that asset with other data within the company – structured, unstructured – held in their reports, PowerPoint documents, Word documents, along with the external data including Internet of Things (IoT). Once you bring all of this together then you can draw inside and that’s the power. Now if you’re to do that, you need to have a good platform so that can integration platform to bring all the information together and make insight out of it and distribute it to the right users. Now S/4HANA is a center for the SAP customers for that; the way I see it is as an integral part of that digital core. Now of course there are other components, but the centerpiece is SAP S/4HANA.

Ken: In a hybrid cloud environment, what are the steps a company has to take to arrive at a hybrid cloud migration to take advantage of these things?

Sanjay: Going to cloud itself I think is a journey, and while there are technical steps to it I think to a great extent it’s also a mind-change within the company as well. Going to cloud is not a decision point whether it will happen or not, it’s when – cloud will be a major game-changer. Let’s give an example of one of my customers where there is an existing on-premise system which is going on however and it’s very difficult for them to bring through innovations and bring through some of the use cases what they’d like to implement. The outcome of that analysis was that we needed to do something spatial and that was in the cloud. So it was a parallel cloud system where we extracted the data from their main enterprise systems where the transaction is going on into this HANA Cloud where we’re implementing a lot of advanced analytics solutions for them. So not only the solution is very innovative but what is making it possible for them to do is bringing in change much quicker in a much more agile way. That sort of thing definitely starts them onto the journey and now they’ve started discussing how they’re going to go into the IBM Cloud and we’re helping them in terms of that journey. There are things to be considered – data production sometimes people think about where the data center would be and there are some institutions which might say “OK, the data center cannot be outside Europe or US” those are the concerns. Also the type of data probably the personal data sometimes has got some limitations whereas some other transaction data may not. So those are the considerations to take as well.

Ken: What about infrastructure concerns in moving to the cloud?

Sanjay: There would be concerns in terms of data availability, in terms of disaster recovery. Those are the things to consider, and the service offering what I’ve dealt with in many implementations is that you have various levels – the top end platinum service, gold, or even lower – depending on the type of data that you’re holding and how much mission-critical it is. So probably if you’re doing some analytic applications which is not that mission-critical – it’s very important to drive insight, but if the system goes down and isn’t available for a few hours it probably doesn’t break the company. Whereas if it’s a transaction system you’d like to go for the platinum service where you have that level of disaster recovery and other service offerings.

Ken: Lastly, Sanjay, what does IBM offer the SAP customer specifically to help with this technical transformation on the journey to becoming the digital enterprise?

Sanjay: I think our offering is end-to-end. I personally feel that the journey starts at the point of ‘why’? Why we’re doing it. And I think it’s about the use cases that what business challenges or opportunities we’re trying to get to. So coming back to your first question about why people should do it and I talked about digital disruption. So digital disruption – how we’re addressing it, what sort of new business line I’m going to do, and of course how do I improve my current operation as well? For example how do I improve my customer churn, or how do I improve my cash flow – those are about my existing business, particularly the new business ideas and what I’m going to implement comes into play. So IBM gets involved in that discussion and we sit with the business as well as IT and draw up a use case roadmap for the company. And at the back of the use case roadmap comes the application and infrastructure roadmap. Once that is done, there are implementation services, we are implementing across the line following various methodologies, the most popular is the agile methodology so that you can bring in the use cases much quicker and that’s very important how you’ll bring it live. And then comes constant innovation as well; once it’s implemented of course you need to service it, but it’s not just an application management service, it’s about how do support ongoing innovation? And not just technically solving the problem, but also working closely with business like a partner and making sure the company heeds their corporate objectives. That’s the business we’re in.

Ken: Sanjay, thank you for being with me today.

Sanjay: Thank you very much for having me.

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