The role of the cloud in your digital transformation journey in Africa – Gilbert Saggia

The role of the cloud in your digital transformation journey in Africa – Gilbert Saggia

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Gilbert Saggia, Managing Director, East Africa at SAP Africa

Businesses acknowledge they are buried under mountains of inefficiencies and missed opportunities. CEOs understand that digital is an opportunity and a threat. So, the question is not about awareness, but how to unleash the power of digital transformation while finding a balance between maintaining a healthy business and current infrastructure, and innovating without disruption.

Kenya, and East Africa in general, is enjoying the positive impact of digital innovation. Kenya has made a significant progress in areas like cloud adoption. For example we have seen companies like Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) who automated their business processes, by moving its entire infrastructure transmission projects from manual to SAP HANA. This is a positive stance to demonstrate that the country need to run smarter and efficient. On the other hand, Commercial Bank of Africa’s investment in its workforce is yielding high returns. It all started with the integrated SAP SuccessFactors platform, which allows CBA to plan, reward and retain its human capital, track performance against targets, and engage in continuous learning and development. Ms Roopa Karemungikar, Managing Director of Altura, an SAP partner, commented that the ability to align all business processes across different countries will help CBA to reduce paperwork, increase the productivity and automate the bank transfer of salaries.

The African Digitalisation Maturity Report indicates that Kenya has an extensive ICT infrastructure including mobile internet access. The country is more diverse and services centric which helps drives the expansion of digital services.

The mandate from business to IT has shifted. For decades, a CIO’s chief responsibility was to reduce costs and keep the lights on just enough to run mission-critical processes. Now, CIOs and IT departments are tasked with driving business innovation. To stay competitive in a digital economy, it is no longer sufficient to have a system landscape whose primary role is to keep records.

With the internet of things disrupting the African market, industry analysts, Frost & Sullivan forecasted significant growth within Kenya’s ICT market in 2017 which would be fueled by connectivity and convergence. IT service providers are expected to take advantage of big data analytics and IoT, while telecommunications providers will continue to establish themselves in the broadcasting, cloud and IoT segments.

Most organizations invest a great deal to maintain and customise their IT landscapes to meet their unique business needs. Today, nearly every organisation has some level of cloud presence, typically for customer relationship management (CRM), human capital management (HCM), or procurement. According to media reports, services at the Mombasa port is improving and much more faster following Kenya Ports Authority’s switch to a new operational system. The statement released by the authority, this move has placed the port at 70% in the journey towards becoming a paperless port. “KPA is the leading organization in the region to deploy more than one new solutions and functionalities in SAP Systems at ago. These include the Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) an online portal where Suppliers can transact with KPA”, said Head of Information Communication & Technology. The question we hear most often from customers is not how to make their first foray into the cloud, but rather how to design a comprehensive enterprise cloud strategy that:
* Protects existing investments
* Accelerates innovation
* Keeps an organization’s unique business processes intact

Moving to the cloud does not mean breaking off some parts of the business in a piecemeal fashion or taking a rip-and-replace approach.

Cloud is one of the key drivers of digital transformation. Cloud has disrupted the traditional IT model by drastically reducing time to market and TCO for innovative solutions. With its ease of use and ubiquitous access, cloud has democratised the decisions about software purchasing, access, and usage.

Cloud computing offers immense opportunity for companies to improve their business operations, regardless of sector. Modern cloud offerings reduce IT infrastructure complexity and free up resources that can be better applied to driving innovation. And with security topping the list of concerns among business and IT leaders, cloud providers today invest talent and energy into ensuring their offerings are able to meet even the most stringent security requirements.

According to the IDC, cloud spending is expected to surge by 25% to reach more than $100bn, with cloud data centres expected to double in number. In a separate study, analysts found that an astonishing $237bn in profits were lost by the top 200 global companies alone, mainly due to the hidden costs of complexity.

Despite these clear signs, cloud migration of key business applications is still met with reservations and, often, resistance. IT leaders list concerns such as possible downtime, security, potential loss of control over key business processes, and cost.

Managing increasing complexity

As technologies like artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, AR, VR, and the Internet of Things become mainstream, enterprise IT systems and the digital processes they drive are getting more complex every day. Companies need to find new ways to reduce complexity while ensuring that their IT systems are flexible enough to adapt to the requirements of a shifting technology and business landscape.

Many organizations choose to migrate some or all their mission critical applications to the cloud to increase flexibility. To do this efficiently, it is critical to understand some of the key success factors for a cloud model. The high ground in any mission-critical application cloud solution comes down to four promises:

1. A comprehensive, end-to-end SLA approach that avoids unproductive time-wasting by disparate service providers.
2. Integration across your application landscape.
3. Access to industry and engineering experts and best practices to support ad hoc and ongoing needs.
4. Ability to leverage new skills and resources across infrastructure, technical management and cross vendor application management.

SAP’s cloud offerings provide companies with the global expertise and local knowledge needed to free up internal resources and shift focus away from IT management – i.e. ensuring systems are up and running – and to innovation, the driving force of all successful businesses in today’s digital economy. The benefits of this are clear:

The cost benefit of cloud

Running business applications in the cloud means less maintenance, especially in comparison to on-premise solutions, as many subscription models include company-specific maintenance and support in addition to hosting. Investments to replace outdated hardware are also no longer necessary, as these are already included in the monthly fees and service agreements.

Using managed cloud services allows companies to scale the scope of applications they pay for to what they really need. While existing on-premise solutions might have numerous functionalities that companies pay for (although they are often unnecessary), companies in the cloud only pay for what they really need and for what they use. When business requirements change, companies can flexibly adapt their services and applications in the cloud as required.

Unlocking business value

By partnering with a leading cloud provider such as SAP, companies can accelerate business processes that were previously limited by the performance of their on-premise systems. In addition, they can swiftly replace outdated applications with new ones and make sure that different company locations with previously diverging software releases are all upgraded at the same time, reducing the overall complexity of their IT landscape.

Support is similarly simplified: by moving insulated business applications to the cloud, companies are able to work with a single provider that assumes total responsibility. With a comprehensive, managed cloud offering such as the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, organisations can further optimise their IT landscape to future-proof their business. This allows them to focus on the functional and business layer of their stack – driving innovation, business value, and growth – while handing off the technical aspects of system and application management to a reputable cloud partner such as SAP.

With 125 million cloud subscribers and 44 state-of-the-art data centres in 27 locations around the world, isn’t it time you spoke to SAP about how the cloud can fit into your company’s digital transformation journey?

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