SAP focuses on education to spur business growth

German enterprise software maker SAP plans to invest heavily in education to support strategic technology innovation and spur business growth.

German enterprise software maker SAP plans to invest heavily in education to support strategic technology innovation and spur business growth.

This is especially necessary in emerging markets, which are enthusiastic adopters of new technologies as shown by recent sales figures, but typically lack certified consultants in mobile and in-memory technologies.

"There is a disconnect between what SAP needs for its innovation agenda and local consulting services, and there is little point in selling new technology into markets where there are few people with the skills to implement them," said Franck Cohen, president of SAP for the Emea region.

Historically, large systems integrators have invested mainly in Western Europe, but not in emerging markets such as Russia, which is largely responsible for the lack of skills in these areas, he told Computer Weekly.

One way SAP plans to tackle this is by focusing on the company's University Alliances Program (UAP) in those regions, said Cohen.

Building 21st century IT skills

Through the UAP, the company seeks to influence curricula and support efforts at institutions of higher learning to offer courses to equip graduates with the IT skills they need in the 21st century.

SAP is also investing in education internally and has embarked in a huge internal "lift and shift" programme aimed at skilling up existing members of its workforce to support SAP's innovation agenda to introducing technologies and capabilities that did not exist before.

In the UK alone, around 20 managers and 370 employees have received training so far this year, as SAP gears up to fulfil an ambition to garner the biggest share of the enterprise software spend in the country.

Through additional staff training and innovation that integrates with core enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, SAP hopes to build on the momentum of six consecutive quarters of growth in the UK to ultimately eclipse rival Oracle's share of local ERP market.

The UK is one of the few regions Oracle is ahead of SAP in ERP market share, said Cohen, but SAP believes with the progress it is making, it has the potential to take the lead.

Developing ERP specialists

In the past, SAP was ERP-centric, he said, but with the new streams of business intelligence and analytics, in-memory computing and mobile technologies, there is a need to refocus, which is the main reason behind the "lift and shift" training programme.

The training will be specifically aimed at enabling SAP employees to understand the business of customers and speak in a language they can understand.

"Although moving employees from general ERP to specialist areas will cost a fortune, SAP believes it is the right thing to do for the business and individuals concerned," said Cohen.

Training is designed to take place in parallel with current work functions and employees have six months to finalise open opportunities before starting to work in new, more specialised roles.

Cohen said two-thirds of the specialised roles will be filled by existing employees, with the remainder to be made up of experts from outside the company.

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