24/10/2022 11:44 AM

By M, Saraswathi

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 (Bernama) -- Malaysia remains a strategic market for SAP, which is celebrating its 30-year presence in the country, as it continues to support businesses, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in embracing the digital economy, said SAP Southeast Asia president and managing director Verena Siow.

Headquartered in Germany, SAP is one of the world’s leading producers of software for the management of business processes, developing solutions that facilitate effective data processing and information flow across organisations.

“SAP celebrates its 50th anniversary (globally) and 30th in Malaysia. So, we have been in Malaysia for some time now and see Malaysia as a strategic market and country as part of Southeast Asia. In order for Southeast Asia to prosper and grow, Malaysia is a key part of it,” she told Bernama in a recent interview. 

For the record, SAP has about 1,500 customers in Malaysia, of which 29 per cent are listed on Bursa Malaysia. About 79 per cent are SMEs. The top five industries that SAP is involved in Malaysia are energy and natural resources, services, consumer, discrete manufacturing, and public sector.

There are also about 2,000 certified SAP consultants in the market, she said.


Digital Economy and Malaysia


So, evidently, SAP is here to stay, especially as the digital economy is forecast to grow exponentially.

Siow cited Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation data that the digital economy is expected to contribute 22.6 per cent of Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) this year and to create over 500,000 jobs by 2025.

ASEAN digital economy is projected to reach US$1 trillion by 2030. (US$1=RM4.74)

The pandemic especially has accelerated the speed of digitalisation, and to thrive in the “never normal”, enterprises and governments will have to transform and become “intelligent, sustainable enterprises”.

“As a global technology leader, we are committed to Malaysia’s growth journey as we have had over the past three decades. We work with our Malaysian customers to help adopt leading-edge technologies so that they become more productive and efficient,” she said.

Towards this, SAP has partnered and would continue to partner with many governments as well as enterprises to support the transformation not only in digitalisation but also by intelligently seizing new opportunities, she said.

“This also involves training and re-training the workforce to seize opportunities in the digital economy moving forward,” Siow said, adding that SAP has been working closely with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and local universities.

She said nine institutes of higher learning are members of SAP University Alliances Program, including Multimedia University, the National Energy University, University of Malaya, Universiti Kuala Lumpur, and Tunku Abdul Rahman University College.

“A total of 21,000 students have benefited since 2012 with 3,000 students being trained each year for digital skills and SAP skills given that there has always been greater demand for SAP skills and consultants.”

Hence, SAP has been active in keeping the momentum in the ecosystem, she said.

“Interestingly in Malaysia, the demand for SAP skills is not only from within Malaysia among Malaysian customers and enterprises but is also for the region. There are many customers in the region that use Malaysia as a delivery centre, which is great for the country’s economy,” she added.


SAP and SMEs


“As much as SAP is known for our larger customers, especially those that are listed, the fact is, across Southeast Asia and Malaysia, 80 per cent of our customer base is SMEs,” Siow revealed.

In the last two years, demand for SAP solutions from SMEs has accelerated and it is SAP’s fastest growing segment. “We have a lot of new SME customers as they also need to support remote operations,” she said.

Since 2021, SAP has seen great demand for SAP cloud solutions from SMEs, both from existing customers and new customers. In fact, SMEs make up 90 per cent of SAP customer base in ASEAN.

SMEs are the bedrock of the ASEAN economy. They account for 90 per cent of businesses and more than 50 per cent of total employment in ASEAN, as well as 41 per cent of regional GDP.

“Incidentally, RISE with SAP is our latest cloud offering, and I am delighted to share that companies like Johor Corp and Malaysia Airlines are using RISE with SAP to become a sustainable, intelligent enterprise, and to scale for growth. RISE is the way to achieve this in the never normal,” she explained.

SAP looks forward to empowering the digitalisation and transformation journeys of SMEs in Malaysia to support their growth and expansion plans, which will also strengthen the economies in the region.


Supporting ESG


Siow said it is not only the big companies that are looking into solutions which can enable their environment, social and governance (ESG) compliance but also the SMEs, especially those that are looking to grow, expand as well as go for their initial public offerings.

“There has been a spike since last year in terms of customers seeking solutions to support their ESG goals and compliance, be it big corporations or SMEs.”

Among others, SAP’s enterprise resources planning (ERP) software has all the needed data for ESG compliance, and enterprises just need to extract it for reporting purposes. 

“On the other hand, SAP continues to find ways to further innovate its solutions,” she said.


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