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SAP is making data fabric a reality: Bharat Sandhu

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SAP has recently announced key data innovations and partnerships that “give customers access to mission-critical data, enabling faster time to insights and better business decision-making”. The company has also announced a couple of crucial partnerships on the occasion of the launch of Datasphere in Mumbai last month. Express Computer spoke to Bharat Sandhu, SVP, AI & Application Development Platform, SAP on the sidelines of the event. Here are the edited excerpts:

Business Technology Platform, S/4HANA, SuccessFactors, etc. are some of the core solutions offered by SAP. Please brief our readers on these offerings.
As you must be aware, at its heart, SAP is a global cloud company and the world’s leading ERP solutions provider. We’re present in more than 25 industries, catering to customers from sectors including Banking and Financial Services, Pharma, Retail, Metals, Mining & Automotive, Engineering, Construction and Operations, Logistics, Real Estate, and more.

At our core, we are an ERP company that helps customers streamline their finances, supply chain management, human resources, and operations – something which we have been doing for about 50 years, and we hope to do it for many more years to come.

Business Technology Platform basically helps customers with various business processes that are unique to each customer; it helps automate these processes and uncover actionable insights. Well, the need for platforms like this is because as we understand every customer is unique and has unique requirements for their processes – like finance and supply chain – are unique – something that has not come off the box, and this is when Business Technology Platform helps customers with their requirements by extending S/4HANA, SuccessFactors and other applications to meet the uniqueness.

We have four main areas to focus on under the Business Technology Platform – first is the ability to understand all the processes that our customers run, and then augment them. This unique combination of SAP Signavio and SAP Build. This helps us to understand how the processes work, which is otherwise always hidden. The second one is integration. We know there are many systems that exist in a company, and there are many partnerships as well. We need to integrate them all. This is when our Integration Suit comes into the picture. It connects and automates business processes with integrations, connectors, APIs, and best practices for a faster ROI.

And the third one is about the critical customer data which resides within the SAP system. As data landscapes have become increasingly distributed among different applications and systems both in the cloud and on-premises, organizations are spending countless resources extracting, building, and integrating their data. We want to help them find a simpler way to fully harness the power of their data with SAP Datasphere.

And finally, our investments in planning that help customers plan with full confidence for their HR, Finance, procurement and other operations.

Please share your views on the launch of Datasphere?
We have introduced the SAP Datasphere which makes the business data fabric a reality. It allows customers to ingest data from multiple sources – which means you can connect your SAP system, your Oracle system, or your Salesforce System, and customer systems. It allows customers to read the data in a meaningful manner and make data virtualisation a reality which is very important as you would not like to move data, make copies and leave any scope for security breaches.

“SAP datasphere is the next generation of the SAP Data Warehouse Cloud solution. It enables data professionals to deliver scalable access to mission-critical business data. With a unified experience for data integration, data cataloging, semantic modeling, data warehousing, data federation, and data virtualisation, SAP Datasphere enables data professionals to help distribute mission-critical business data – with business context and logic preserved – across their organisation’s data landscape. SAP Datasphere is built on SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP), which includes strong enterprise security capabilities, such as database security, encryption, and governance.”

How will Datasphere make a difference?
Let me give you an example – a use case. There is an industrial gas company working in the medical sector. They manufacture and distribute gas to various clients. Before Datasphere they were investing a lot of time in understanding the supply chain processes. Now the resources, which were earlier occupied in extracting and analysing data, are being assigned some other important tasks. So, I think more and more companies can take advantage of Datasphere. We are helping customers build a business data fabric that maintains the context and logic from their mission-critical business data—that’s been a challenge for so many customers for a long time. See most of the customers’ critical data resides in our system and their processes run on our systems too. So, we have the data, we know the processes. We also understand the supply chain and finance-related issues and complexities. We are now making it easy for organisations to access information.

So, the data, processes, and partnerships – all together make the real difference.

How about the integration process for existing customers?
We have tried to minimise the disruption. Datasphere is interesting because it is an evolution as it is the next generation of SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, which is a comprehensive data service that enables every data professional to deliver seamless and scalable access to mission-critical business data. Further, the customers who were using data warehouses but had no access to Datasphere, with the Datasphere announcement – will now have access to new capabilities and functionalities.

No additional steps or migrations are required for existing customers of SAP Data Warehouse Cloud. New functionality includes data cataloging that automatically discovers, manages, and governs data; simplified data replication to deliver data and its constant updates in real-time; and enhanced data modeling that preserves the rich business context of data in SAP applications.

Please brief us on the partnerships that you have announced.
We have announced a couple of strategic partnerships as we realise that the data space is very thriving. There are many great companies out there that are doing amazing things in data.

Let’s first talk about Collibra which plans to have a tailored integration with SAP, enabling customers to achieve an enterprise governance strategy by building a complete data catalog with lineage across. The company is a leader in data governance. Their entire data landscape – both SAP and non-SAP data. Collibra makes trusted data discoverable across any organisation.

Next is DataRobot, which I work very closely with. It enables customers to leverage multimodal automated machine learning capabilities on top of SAP Datasphere and bring it directly into their business data fabric on whichever cloud platform it resides. Now business users can work and learn machine learning models because of this partnership.

Confluent plans to connect its data streaming platform, empowering companies to unlock valuable business data and connect it with external applications in real-time. Confluent’s cloud-native offering is the foundational platform for data in motion – permitting the uninhibited flow of real-time data from various sources across an organisation.
And the last one is, Databricks. It is now easy for customers to integrate their Data Lakehouse with SAP software so data can be shared with semantics preserved, helping customers simplify their data landscape. This allows the customers to make the most of data analytics.

How do you see the Cloud Adoption rate in India?
I think there has been tremendous growth in the adoption. Even in mid-market and tier II and tier III cities, organisations are adopting cloud technologies and leveraging their potential. In fact, 80% of our 14,000 customers in India are in the mid-market segment, which has responded strongly to our cloud solution RISE With SAP, a flexible solution that allows customers to combine cloud ERP for every business need to become intelligent, globally competitive, and sustainable.

In India, we have over 14,000 customers and 600 partners. Enterprises like Tata Motors, Dabur, Birlasoft, Asian Paints, and global partners such as Mahindra & Mahindra, Wipro, HCL Technologies, and more, have not only taken their entire SAP landscape into the cloud with us but are also driving digital transformation for our customers across the globe.

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