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SAP Africa: We see Africa as a new frontier

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Frank Naude, Business User Solutions, SAP Africa caught up with Frank Naude, Solution Manager at Business User Solutions, SAP Africa. He spoke to Denisa Oosthuizen at the software company’s first Sustainability Summit on the African continent, held on 22 March in Johannesburg. What is SAP’s strategy for Africa in 2010? Are there any differences between African countries, in terms of sustainability?

Frank Naude: We have offices in Kenya and Nigeria, and we are building a presence in both French and Portuguese speaking Africa, we are also in Angola, Namibia etc. In essence, SAP sees Africa as a new frontier. We believe there are huge opportunities now in Africa. When I talk about sustainability, I am not only concerned about environmental issues, but making businesses to be more sustainable, competitive, helping them to be risk-aware and have efficient processes. For us, its really about the capability to run efficient businesses processes, this gives us a new drive into Africa.

At CEBIT last month we had a lady from the spaza shop on the same platform with Angela Merkel (German Chancellor) and our co-CEO talking about a system that we built to help spaza shops in the rural areas to use their mobile phones to place orders. We are looking at emerging markets and the kind of solutions they require.

Overall, our drive in Africa is to look at business sustainability performance, how companies can run better. It is more about enterprise sustainability, but from this year we are also focusing on environmental issues. In many organizations we are still looking at getting the fundamentals right and following that with new aspects we are trying to drive, for example, in South Africa with the King III Report.

In South Africa, there is a big drive, for example, for performance monitoring evaluation, equally in government and the private sector. So we are taking this performance monitoring evaluation approach in South Africa and applying it to the rest of Africa. Will there be any product launches at SAP Africa this year and will they incorporate “green” features?

Frank Naude: Certainly. I think SAP has always looked at what customers want and we don’t necessarily build new products, we usually ask ourselves: should we develop it or acquire something that is at that level? Last year we acquired a company Clear Standards for their carbon footprint measurement tools. This has become our “in the cloud” solution, our hosted web solution for carbon impact assessment. Are you looking at expanding your cloud solutions?

Frank Naude: That’s just one aspect of that. Even if it’s a hosted server, it has to be able to integrate with the company’s existing backend. We always see our products and services as integrated. We are trying to enhance what we have and leverage our current investments. How is SAP Africa integrating King III compliance in its offerings?

Frank Naude: King III does make sense. It is an expression of the kind of things that the country and the shareholders expect of organizations. While it is a regulatory framework for South Africa, the principles of it are common sense. You need to look at all risks and we need to have internal controls. There are systems that can do these for us. King III addresses a lot of important topics and we believe we can take any of these principles and apply them to other African countries and governments or corporations out there. Are these principles incorporated in SAP offerings?

Frank Naude: Absolutely, they were already there. We have taken King III and we mapped it to our software offerings. We are writing software to meet the needs, but the needs were already there, they’ve just been expressed in the King III report. The software is already there to fully support King III. We have been working with our partners on how we can market new ideas around King III framework. This is what we started to do since last year and we are focusing on this year from March. What proportion of SAP sales do the business user solutions represent, particularly the sustainability-driven solutions, such as risk management, process controls etc?

As SAP is growing, more and more of our solution percentage, a larger portion of our turnover is from Business User Solutions, including planning, governance risk, EPM and risks monitoring. I think risks have always been problematic and now that companies have a lot of pressure to be more proactive, we start seeing companies responding and systemizing it. The more regulations you have, the better a system can take care of it and automate it. We saw a growing interest in risks from mid last year and increasing more and more this year.

by Denisa Oosthuizen

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