What comes after the digital transformation? SAP Brazil COO responds

In an interview for LABS, Adriana Aroulho explains how the German software giant wants to help companies generate experiences and more revenue

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SAP is betting on a new approach to the market that the company calls the “Post-Digital Era,” an era in which, once the challenges of the digital transformation have been navigated, companies need to prepare for the “Economy of Experience”. The company itself began delving into the topic after the acquisition, at the end of last year, of Qualtrics, the Canadian company that specialized in experience management of their customers’ clients.

Adriana Aroulho, the COO at SAP Brazil, observes that Brazilian companies are in more or less advanced stages of the digital transformation, and many are already are preparing themselves and implementing projects that aim at improving the experiences of their clients.

In this interview—granted the day before the German software giant’s SAP Now corporate event on September 11th and 12th—she describes how that new approach can leverage the potential of businesses in different sectors.

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LABS – How are Brazilian companies dealing with their digital transformations? What happens if they do not succeed in the process?

Adriana – The question is no longer “if,” but rather “when.” All of them will have to transform, or they will not be able to compete. Obviously, depending on the industries or some markets, the maturity levels are different. Some are more advanced and are already keeping an eye out for the topic of experience, establishing programs and investing in the necessary tools. Others are even more focused on digitization.

LABS – What is the first level of digital transformation?

Adriana – Using the example of the music industry, merchant commodities were once the show, then we went on to own a Discman, the Walkman, and even iPods, as ways to give the client access to the product in the format and moment that they want. Now we are starting to talk about the digital transformation for a service economy in which applications such as Spotify, an app in which the client decides when and where to consume that which was a commodity and product.

The economy of experience for the music industry can be exemplified by the Fortnite phenomenon, a phenomenon in which 10 million people connected at a specific time to watch a show by DJ Marshmello in a gaming platform.

Imagine the power of sending messages to influence 10 million people connected. I understand that this is a path in which there is no turning back for other sectors.

Adriana Aroulho, the COO at SAP Brazil. Photo: SAP Brazil.

LABS – Which are the most advanced sectors?

Adriana – Retail companies have a very aggressive competition, with a very specific digital transformation agenda. Manufacturing is already focused on industry 4.0, so as to digitally connect the chain of production, while searching to optimize their processes. And there are some of our clients that operate both in industry and retail.

The digital transformation is a fundamental step, and our strategy is to facilitate an intelligent company in the experience economy. The first step is to have a digital ERP, ensuring that its transnational core is optimized for embedded emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. Our digital ERP S4Hana brings embedded automatization, so as to eliminate repetitive processes and generate increased productivity. Hence, it connects with ease to a variety of clouds of other processes.

LABS – SAP has a framework that covers the transnational demands and it includes ERP, CRM, and Success Factor (RH) products, and another innovation framework that was packaged with Leonardo, what features does it include?

Adriana – All the emerging technologies: big data, blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things. It is a micro service platform with all those tech features available. S4Hana itself already packages several of those technologies, such as i-RPA, which identifies the process that needs to be optimized.

LABS – SAP cited the concept of the “post-digital era,” what is that?

Adriana – It is what we are coining as the experience economy. Digital is the basis for what everybody wants, but the question is how to use it to effectively to generate an experience for the client of our customer.

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LABS – And how are you achieving that transformation?

Adriana – Consulting takes place in our ecosystem of partners. But we have a differential position because we have operational data. SAP controls ¾ of the global GDP going through our systems—ERP, CRM, RH. And now with our new platform after the acquisition of Qualtrics, we went on to have experience and sentiment data. If a person enters a website, the platform asks them to rate their experience, why they abandoned their cart.

LABS – Could you describe the data collection and sentiment analysis? Does it occur when the user is interacting with the company or do you also go to the social networks of the user, or search for their digital traces?

Adriana –  The tool allows that as well, but it will depend on the use that the client of SAP wants. The tool describes what occurred, but it doesn’t say why it happened. When the user abandons a cart, Qualtrics immediately asks what happened, in a friendly manner.

All this is organized according to established parameters within the tool. The company will have a dashboard to know in that precise moment the analysis of what is happening with their client. If it is a problem with the website, they can take the necessary actions right away.

LABS – Could you describe the adoption of the experience economy in Brazil?

Adriana – Qualtrics operates globally and has 50 clients in Brazil. Among them are Alpargatas by Havaianas, Mercedes Benz, Fast Shop. Naturally, we are now expanding our reach through the base of 13 thousand clients of the SAP.

LABS – What was the year like for SAP, the slowdown in the economy has affected operations?

Adriana – The technology sector hasn’t been affected much, because companies see in technology an escape from their crisis. It is possible to optimize costs, attract more clients. Depending on the industry, we are seeing another page of our portfolio. Concerning expenses, we have three big solution blocks: Ariba, a solution for purchases; Fildglass, a solution for the management of third-party contracts and focused on intensive companies focused on labor; and Concur, a solution for the optimization of travel expenses. And for clients that have all three solutions, we are able to offer a unique vision of costs.

LABS – What is the profile of demand: more projects geared to the reduction of costs, due to the crisis, or innovation projects to gain competitiveness?

Adriana – Demand is quite varied. Even innovative [companies] perform cost reduction, so as to save resources for innovation.