Exclusive interview with Andrew Strachan, Head: Energy & Natural Resources, SAP South Africa, gold sponsor at African Utility Week 2013 and sponsor of the CEO Forum.
What are you most excited about currently in terms of SAP’s products and solutions?
SAP is serious about growing and investing into the greater Africa region, and has dedicated the most senior resources to formalizing an ambitious “$1 billion by 2017” strategy for the region.
SAP’s five pillar strategy is helping businesses of all sizes run better and innovate sustainably using SAP solutions that include applications, analytics, mobile, cloud, database and technology. The mid-term objectives are to reach €20 billion in sales by 2017, of which €2 billion comes from the cloud. In addition, SAP aims at reaching 1 billion SAP users by 2015, and becoming the industry’s fastest growing database for in-memory computing via SAP HANA.
There are more than 650 million mobile subscribers on African soil. The potential is enormous and SAP aims at leading mobile adoption in the enterprise space, “Mobility is the new desktop.”
What opportunities do you see in Africa?
In an African continent of accelerated change, we are at an inflection point. Companies today need to be able to react and adapt rapidly to this change. SAP innovations are helping the world run better by enabling our 232,000 customers to run more efficiently, be closer to their own customers, motivate their employees, gain real time insight into their businesses, and optimize scarce resources. Our innovations matter to our customers. Our innovations matter to people. Our innovations matter to Africa and the world.
SAP will continue to invest in countries in Africa, in which we expect significant growth and we aim to expand our market share in those countries. Africa is one of the fastest developing regions in the world and businesses, particularly utilities are looking to expand rapidly and improve efficiency, flexibility, agility, transparency and gain rapid insight into their business at an affordable cost. SAP is perfectly positioned to help the utilities sector address those needs, speed-up innovation and help transform their business.
What do you think makes SAP competitive in this market?
SAP for the sixth consecutive year has been ranked the software sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, as announced in October 2012. Based on economic, environmental and social criteria, SAP achieved a total score of 84%, showing an 8% improvement since the 2011 results were announced. Included in both the World and Europe Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, SAP increased its scores in all three sustainability areas. For economic, the company moved up to 87% from 81% in 2011. At 85%, environmental saw a 13% point improvement and social rose from 72 to 79% in the past year.
It is not only about enabling customers to save energy; on the home front, SAP has committed to reduce its total global greenhouse gas emissions back to the levels of 2000 by 2020. This equates to lowering emissions by about 50% from 2007 levels. Since 2007, SAP has lowered its emissions by more than 25%.
What benefits does SAP bring to the utilities industry?
- Efficiencies for improving talent management and productivity to meet changing realities and increasing constituent expectations
- Capabilities to analyze, differentiate and serve customer segments according to costs, profits and services used
- Support for services innovation and delivery
- Support for increasing transparency, accountability and improving accountability and documentation.
What do you think are the biggest challenges to the South African/African energy market?
By 2050, it is estimated there will be 9 billion people on the planet and Africa will have the fastest population growth in the world. With this will be increased demand for energy and water, and business process efficiency will become top priority. The pressure on resources will include a 50% growth in energy demand by 2050. Efficient energy management, tax regimes on GHG emissions and increasing pressure from governments and consumers to operate more sustainability will become a challenge.
South Africa’s rising energy demand is expected to be twice the current level by 2030. Now more than ever, business has a crucial role to play in role-modelling and helping to save energy. In December last year, SAP Africa signed the 49M energy saving pledge during the Eskom-led 49M Charity Golf Day. The goal of the 49M campaign is to reduce the country’s electricity consumption by 10%. There are 9.8 million electricity consuming households in the country and it is estimated that if every one of them cut back their energy usage by just 10%, the country’s overall electricity usage would fall by 3%.
What will be your main message at the CEO Forum at African Utility Week?
Our commitment to a sustainable world and a sustainable Africa is strong, as we seek to minimize our own environmental footprint and positively impact the communities in which we work. In 2012, for example, 60% of the electricity consumed by SAP came from renewable sources. We reduced our GHG emissions slightly despite strong business growth. And, our employees delivered more than 130,000 hours of volunteering in the communities in which we work.