NTT DATA urges SAP community to “step out of comfort zone”

Attendees at NTT's transformation now event | urging SAP community to “step out of comfort zone”

The end of September saw NTT DATA Business Solutions stage Transformation NOW!, a London-based event dedicated to all things SAP. As hosted by the SAP partner and consultancy, NTT DATA’s conference focused on S/4HANA, development and extensibility, sustainability (ESG), line of business solutions and data-analytics.

In tune with the highly-anticipated closing celebrity keynote by beloved journalist and broadcaster Louis Theroux, the day was infused with curiosity and honesty. In addition to being candid about his career and challenges, Theroux shared his rediscovered appreciation for tech, which enabled him to work in new ways as the pandemic hit and prompted him to launch his podcast venture from home. A mini-digital transformation for the documentary maker, in other words.

Speaking of transformation, the opening video address chimed in tune with SAP’s recent bold move pushing the transition from on-prem to cloud, reminding the audience that “it’s business-critical to think we can step out of our comfort zones. It’s the only way we can get better, enrich lives and lay the foundation for a better world. For us, innovation is not a choice.”

Elsewhere, the sustainability and ESG sessions emphasized a joining element of NTT DATA Business Solutions and SAP’s efforts to help optimize the management of business operations and inspire workplaces to thrive.

Introducing the significance of sustainability on organizations’ agenda, Andy Steer, VP and chief technology officer of NTT DATA Business Solutions, shared his observations that more organizations are choosing to be “purpose-driven and purpose-oriented” which often translates to being sustainable in a full ESG criteria.

At the same time, he acknowledged that there will be a degree of sustainability different organizations aim for that might change with time, especially as the economic climate remains turbulent.

“I think for the organizations that are in a regulatory trap and have to invest, some might try and invest as little as possible. For the purpose-driven organizations, I think that’s more challenging. It’s about how strongly they believe in their purpose.

“We can recognize that there are B Corp organizations, for example, which are very focused on being purpose-oriented. I don’t see them reducing their investment. I think for more traditional organizations, this is going to be a test,” Steer, said.

NTT DATA: Transformation NOW! highlights

Gathering a much bigger-than-anticipated audience, the Women Drive Change session which focused on paving the path to gender balance in corporate diversity brought a breath of fresh air to proceedings. The panel demonstrated the journeys of women in tech and the positive changes diversity and inclusion have brought about over the past two decades.

Sharing her personal experiences, Celine Cazali, chief partner officer of SAP UKI, said that over the past 15 years, she has seen a big transformation both in her organization and the industry as a whole.

Discussing various strategies how more organizations can continue “fighting the good fight”, Cazali said that upon discussions with fellow women, a common strategy sounds like this: “For every goal that you’re putting in, give yourself a benchmark. We’ve got to attract 50:50 and then you’ve got to support the development of women’s careers in your organization. So that’s one thing we’ve done in the recruitment strategy, but again, you have to look at every aspect of the process”.

Following this strategy, she shared that SAP is planning to start from the top with its gender balance goals, aiming to have women in 25 percent of executive roles by 2025 and for women to represent 40 percent of the workforce by 2030.

The conference also didn’t neglect the subject everyone has been talking about of late, the potential of GenAI – another timely discussion as SAP recently introduced its new generative AI assistant, Joule.

Exploring both the unlimited potential of AI and its sensitivities amid the creation of AI-generated deepfakes, which “place us in a moment in time when you cannot trust anything that’s different,” Thomas Nørmark, global head of innovation at NTT DATA Business Solutions, said: “We all have AI in our hands… Maybe it can help us cure cancer, write policy and solve sustainability problems. But there is also a theory that you can do harm… And these are really the questions that we have to ask ourselves.”

Drawing from this example, Nørmark advised business leaders that this is when they have to consider their maturity as a company. “I just have one good advice for you: you need to start in the right way. You cannot just start in this corner and expect that you will create value with AI.

“You have to start in the right way and start looking at your maturity and your competency, and then you can begin looking into business cases. Areas where you can really create solutions.”

In other words, the perfect scenario for transformation “now” to occur.