The Sub-Sahara Africa region is showing signs of increased maturity and responsiveness towards cloud adoption, according to Grant Bennett, Country Manager for SUSE South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. And this presents service and support providers in Africa with a clear opportunity.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Africa SAP User Group (AFSUG) Saphila 2019 at Sun City in South Africa's North West Province this week, Bennett said based on research the company conducted a few months ago, only about 11% of respondents said they either didn't have a cloud strategy in place or had no idea what their management strategy was.
"About 76% of the market is saying they have a cloud strategy and it's actually active (in terms of) where they are going to take the business forward. They've realised there is certainly a value around that ... I think it's up to the partners, SAP and ourselves, to show them how to derive that value."
He believes that the region has evolved in terms of approach to cloud.
"From a cloud perspective, there weren't a lot of early adopters right up front on core functionality... the world has changed a lot now. If I look at it from the beginning, from the introductory phase, it was almost an education process, getting the customers to understand what cloud means, what components we are going to take there, and what is going to do for their business from a platform infrastructure and software perspective. And where the cost savings are and the repurposing of people, getting them to do more, more strategic work as opposed to mundane work that a system can do," said Bennett.
Bennett added that the onus is now on industry partnerships and vendors to show clients "where the quick wins are" and to get them on the path to SAP's 2025 vision.
This vision he referred to is the company's cloud service and support roadmap, which includes its prolonged mainstream maintenance for SAP Business Suite to 2025 as businesses manage the transition from on-premise to cloud and specifically S4/HANA.
According to an article published on CIO.com, SAP has declared that by 2025 all mainstream maintenance will end for SAP Business Suite 7, which contains ERP 6.0.
This means decision makers have to carefully consider their approach to-and strategy around cloud migration.
At Saphila 2019, SAP underlined the importance of cloud as part of intelligent technologies that are part of the digital transformation process and part of the arsenal of intelligent enterprises operating in the experience economy.
The company emphasised the role of application lifecycle management (ALM) in ensuring businesses extract the full value of cloud investment.
Bennett said SAP is a close partner and SUSE has been co-developing with them for 25 years.
He believes SAP's statement that businesses need to be on HANA and cloud-ready by 2025 has given SUSE a lot of pull-through.
"It has assisted in getting that process from introductory to growth and to some areas, maturity... where they've taken non-core, your HR processes, maybe financial consolidation and put those in the cloud early. Now you are starting to see the big banks, big telcos moving core, like F5... good example is Standard Bank going AWS on core financials," said Bennett.
There is a readiness today among businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa to adopt cloud and develop and enforce their cloud strategy.
Bennett believes businesses are being far more strategic in terms of their thinking around cloud and there is less resistance by the CIO.
"In essence it wasn't as strategic a move as it is now... guys are now saying 'how do we focus on our core competence, our business, and give, for instance, IT to someone else and manage them through a very strict SLA'. Then they can focus on becoming more agile and meeting market expectations."
He added that SAP's central message of customer experience and the intelligent enterprise is the right one at the right time – but its core value really depends on where a company is on their digital transformation journey.