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SAP sees huge opportunity in GST, demonetisation

SAP is placing its bet on two large opportunities in the country—the roll out the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the ongoing demonetisation exercise.

According to a top company executive, GST that is likely to roll out from April 2017 will require companies to not just be tax complaint but also readjust their structure and supply chain networks. The demonetisation, which is leading to a boom in cashless payments, represents a massive opportunity for SAP in terms of data analytics and storage for digital wallet, banks and other financial services firms. Deb Deep Sengupta, managing director for SAP Indian Subcontinent, told ET in interview that the GST roll out is irreversable, whether it happens on April 1 or a few months later, and over the next 18-24 months, the impact will be felt not just on organisations but also on the ecosystem.

 "What is expected are 4 billion digital invoices a day, organisations-—large and small—will have to relook at their contracts, dealers and suppliers," Sengupta said. "They will have to make their system fool proof because there can’t be a margin of error. The only way you can do that is through automation and technology." He added that it is a great opportunity for customers to relook at their structure and redesign their supply chains, since the current supply chain has been designed according to interstate taxation etc.

 Sengupta said SAP has 7,500 customers in India and all of them are GST ready. Moreover, 70 per cent of the corporate taxes are paid by its customers, he claimed. In the recent past, SAP has aggressively promoted its big data platform, SAP HANA, and its cloud offerings.

 "If I take the case of demonetisation, the promise of HANA is to give you real time data, at the lowest cost and be able to give the analytics immediately, so each one of these financial technology companies mobile wallets etc would need analytics, they would need a database, which is real time fast and can enable their services. That will be a huge opportunity for SAP," said Sengupta. On Thursday, SAP launched a technology called the SAP Digital Boardroom in India, which aims to contextualize and simplify performance reporting across areas of business on a real time basis through digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa.

It will enable an interactive board discussion and give decision makers a simplified boardroom process by allowing board members to analyse large volumes of data and identify business risks and opportunities in real time. As far as data centres are concerned, Sengupta said the company has chosen not to set up its own data centre in India unlike technology companies such as Google and Microsoft, which have announced plans to set up centres in India. He said SAP is not an infrastructure company and wants to be platform agnostic.

 It has partnered with local data centre provider called CtrlS to offer services to not just corporates but also governments. 

"Our competency is to build software solutions and applications. We are working on a concept called cloud foundry where our application and software can work on any data centre be it Amazon or Google," he said, adding that it will give its customers choice in terms of choosing their cloud service provider.

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