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Australian market leading the charge in cloud uptake: SAP ANZ MD

SAP Australia and New Zealand's recently appointed managing director John Ruthven has outlined that business locally continues to make good progress in the cloud market.

During the company's second quarter results for the 2015 fiscal year announced in July, SAP reported that the Asia Pacific region contributed to a large chunk of the company's overall growth.

The German software maker reported operating profit of €701 million, and part of that result was due to the APAC region experiencing a 138 percent growth, which drove cloud and software revenue in the region up 19 percent.

Speaking to ZDNet, recently appointed ANZ managing director John Ruthven, said the results are proof of the Australian and New Zealand IT community "punching above their weight".

"They push the envelope in terms of taking on new technologies and really driving trend. When you boil that down to cloud, if you look at one of the sectors many would regard as conservative regarding technology, the public sector has one of the big proponents of cloud, and one of our big customers in terms of cloud solutions.

"Similarly, across our line of business solutions, which covers everything from HR, procurement, customer engagement, and omnichannel across private and public sector, you're seeing a big take up by them. Our view would be that the transformation to the cloud is happening faster here than in other parts of the region."

At the same time, the results are also reflective of the ongoing transformation SAP continues to undertake. Over the last few years, the company has been revamping its flagship Business Suite to refocus the business towards delivering cloud-based software and applications rather than on-premise ERP solutions.

Ruthven highlighted underpinning a key aspect of the transformation has been the company's HANA environment, which platform solutions president Steve Lucas has previously described as a "very open platform".

Another area of focus for SAP has been the Internet of Things. Earlier this year, the company inked multiple partnerships with firms including Jasper and T-Systems. Ruthven said the company sees potential to help existing customers leverage data for different use cases, and already has a local team working on it.

"If you look at some of our big customers in sectors like mining and resources, as an example, when you look at the number of nodes that their heavy equipment has, it's almost untapped today. You can collect the data but people are not doing a lot with it," he said.

Part of the transformation has however seen SAP axe over 2,000 positions globally, which Ruthven said is part of SAP's strategy to remain flexible. He added there are plans to increase company headcount by the end of 2015 above the initial amount the company started with at the beginning of the year.

"We're very optimistic around the transition of the company and the part we play. We have a very innovative customer base in Australia; we are well positioned and we'll continue to do well," he said.

"At a leadership level, we are very focused on the simple equation of 'having highly engaged teams or employees drive superior outcomes' and getting that right."

SAP has released a report -- The Australian Digital Experience -- highlighting the digital experience consumers have and what they like are not being delivered. In fact, 47 percent of Australian consumers said they are unsatisfied with their digital experience.

The worst performing sector, according to the research, was the telco and utilities sector. On the other end of the spectrum were the grocery retail and banking sectors.

The report also showed those who were 'delighted' by their digital experience were four times more likely to remain loyal and engaged with a brand. Respondents rated attributes that contribute to creating a 'delightful' experience include having a cohesive, integrated and simple experience; being available at anytime; and being respectful and dedicated to the consumer's needs.

Ruthven suggested the way organisations can improve their digital experience for customers is to appeal to the digital influencer cohort, which are people who frequently post content and receive high volumes of responses; and invest in solutions that bring the front and back end of their business together.

"We thought [the digital influencers] would be more difficult to please, but it turns out they're more engaged and much easier to understand their expectations because they're engaged with the process. This is in comparison to the more passive consumers who are a lot more difficult to understand what they want and what their expectations are," he said.