As we know that SAP has 13,000 customers and SMEs represent a fair share of those. We would like to know in detail about your plans to help the MSME sector in India to navigate the pandemic.
This new business landscape will be characterised by constrained and volatile demand and supply, remote work environments, socially distanced manufacturing, and minimal touch supply chain systems. However, the pandemic has brought ‘Digital First’ to the forefront and businesses need to grab this opportunity to develop agile, resilient, and reactive models that can be pivoted on-demand.
Companies including those from the SME segment are looking at digital as a means for survival, recovery, and post-pandemic growth. We believe there are four broader areas of focus for SMEs in India and we are engaging with the industry, the government, and the community at large to support each one of these areas.
∙ The first area is gaining access to global markets. The importance of global sourcing in the pandemic era can be a big motivation for Indian SMEs to gain access to global markets digitally. The volatility of domestic demand is another motivator. Digital business networks provide a solution for this.
∙ Second is the issue of awareness about the technology solutions. The awareness generation is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders.
∙ Third is the availability of a digital talent pool to serve the requirements of SME. This, to us, is an area that requires government-industry collaboration. We have partnered with Central Ministries and state governments to train youth on enterprise software with the objective of facilitating a talent pool for SMEs.
∙ The final area of particular relevance to SMEs is to learn from peers or the horizontal replication of experiences.
SAP India’s Global Bharat program is intended to enable Indian SMEs in these focus areas by providing them access to the global marketplace, digitally skilling their workforce and transforming business processes. This in turn can help them become globally competitive and future ready.
What role do you see for industry-government partnerships in post pandemic recovery and growth? What would be the possible strategic areas of such partnerships?
The emphasis of industry-government partnership in post pandemic recovery and growth can potentially be threefold:
1) Employee safety, wellbeing, and welfare
2) Ensuring business continuity and support for small and medium enterprises and
3) Digitisation. In the digital technologies domain, successful government-industry partnerships are a key to ensure business technologies that result in optimal performance improvement and help achieving global competitiveness.
From a strategic point of view, some of the areas for government-industry collaboration include digital skilling, sustainability and climate change, consumer and citizen experience management, SMEs, innovation, and emerging technologies. We already see examples of such partnerships in India. SAP is working with NITI Aayog, Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and NASSCOM on similar initiatives.
What have been some of your employee related initiatives during Covid? How have you helped the community at large?
A key essential in 2021 is our commitment to all-round employee wellness. We are actively investing in offerings catering to the physical health, mental wellness and emotional well-being of our employees. We have taken various steps to engage with our employees and encourage an open culture where they could talk about their mental health especially in these times. Hence, we have included mental health (illness) as part of our sick leaves enabling employees to take their time off and relax. Our Pledge to Flex, a 100 per cent flexible and trust-based workplace as the norm is a commitment for our employees to run at their personal best while working from home, at the office or remotely.
We established a EUR €3 million Covid-19 Emergency Fund last April. Another EUR €3 million were added to the fund this year thereby doubling our contribution in order to provide support to our employees, their families, and the communities at large. We are also carrying out vaccination drives for our employees and their families depending on the vaccine availability with our partner hospitals.
SAP in India continues to work with its strategic partners and non-profit organisations to support the community that we live in. We have procured and entrusted Karnataka’s Department of Health with oxygen concentrators, ventilators, respiratory humidifiers and full-face masks. We have also established COVID Care Centres (isolations centres) across our locations in India in collaboration with partner hospitals and hotels to provide support for those in need. We are also collaborating with the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for the ‘Oxygen Digital Tracking System’. As an organisation with more than 13,000 employees in the country and more than one lakh globally, we share a responsibility to do our bit and support our employees and their families in this battle against Covid-19.
What role do you see for technology to support sustainable growth for countries like India? How can companies like SAP contribute to this?
With sustainability being at the top of the list of every organisation, technology can be an essential enabler for achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), improve profitability and make socio-economic impact. Sustainability requires a collaborative and cross-stakeholder approach which can be facilitated by technology. It can enable the traceability and manageability of environmental impact at each stage of the supply chain and also facilitate the reuse or circular economy. The three broad technology enablements come through supply chain sustainability, circular processes and transparency from a single source of truth.
The unique experiment of the SDG index for states in India is really appreciable as it enables them to work towards a sustainable future. From an SAP perspective, we see our role both as an exemplar and an enabler. Our greatest strength lies in our ability to enable businesses to drive sustainability at scale and achieve their goals. SAP’s purpose is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives with sustainability at the core
The delivery of government services to citizens is an area brought to the forefront by the pandemic. What would be your prescription for the next wave of e-governance and digital India?
The Digital India program and the allied initiatives have really helped the government and citizens adopt a digital first mindset. Technology based service delivery is a foregone conclusion now. The four broad areas that we need to consider going forward are –
1) Citizen Experience Management – in addition to the operational data, the technology can now facilitate the capture of experience data also. ‘Experience Management’ can really facilitate the right services and solutions which may be a shift from the approach to delivering the services rightly.
2) The second area is the ‘Whole of Government’. I believe that the time of ‘single window service’ is limited, and very soon there will be a demand for ‘no window service’. This is only possible through unification and technology-based integration of the currently siloed service delivery.
3) The third area is the standardisation and replication of rapidly emerging use cases for new and frontier technologies like AI, IoT, blockchain, etc. We have seen some great progress in this area and now is the right time to structure everything to ensure that we derive the right benefits from this.
4) The final area is development of a talent pool on digital technologies in government. The capacity building for technology in government must give way to technology culture building now. It’s time now to capitalise on skill development on emerging technologies for use by the government in service delivery.