Tayfun Topkoc, Managing Director, SAP UAE and Oman speaks to the DigiTrans Team

Tayfun Topkoc, Managing Director, SAP UAE and Oman speaks to the DigiTrans Team | DigiTrans

Spokesperson: Tayfun Topkoc, Managing Director, SAP UAE and Oman


1. In March this year, SAP committed to invest $200 million in UAE within the next 5 years. What is it about UAE or the region that has SAP all excited?

Driven by government-led digital transformation agendas such as UAE Vision 2021, Dubai Plan 2021, and Dubai Smart City, the UAE is one of the world’s most advanced and innovative markets.

The UAE is a key market for SAP, and we are seeing strong feedback from our recently-announced 5-year USD 200 million UAE investment plan. Our investment includes the new Middle East and North Headquarters in Dubai; plans to establish first SAP Cloud Data Center in UAE in 2017 to drive public sector cloud take-up; the first Co-Innovation Lab (COIL) in the UAE, and the 15th lab across the globe, facilitating project-based co-innovation with customers and partners; and the hub of the SAP Training and Development Institute, which upskills youth, young grads, workforce.

Already, the UAE is showcasing global best practices in digital transformation. For example, we recently announced the UAE winners of the SAP Quality Awards, which recognize the most innovative organizational deployments:

Aligned with Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, Abu Dhabi Distribution Company, with partner Clariba, won gold for delivering real-time e-government services to more than 300,000 businesses and consumers. Using Big Data analytics, Abu Dhabi Distribution Company is making faster decisions, enabling customers to access their utilities billing and consumption online, and improving performance while cutting costs.

Additional UAE organizations recognized include retail, building, and construction conglomerate Easa Saleh Al Gurg, global automotive exporters Ghassan Abboud Cars, advertising and marketing holding company Omnicom, and the region’s largest e-commerce platform SOUQ.com.

2. How do see major technology companies like SAP contributing towards making lives better for people through technology? Can you share some examples?

SAP vision is enabling digital transform to transform people’s daily lives and help the world run better.

Our solutions, including the SAP HANA in-memory platform, SAP S/4HANA real-time business suite, and SAP Leonardo digital innovation system, are localized to 25 industries and 12 lines of business, enabling a wide range organizations and industry verticals to adopt the latest transformational technology solutions.

One of the best examples of technology transforming daily lives is SAP recently signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the new company EvoTeq, by Bee’ah. EvoTeq is a digitally focused company that employs technological solutions to address logistical, educational, healthcare and other complex issues faced by the region.

Evoteq’s first offering is called SmartTrack, which is powered by SAP. SmartTrack will tackle the challenges of drug counterfeiting, within the pharmaceutical industry. This innovative solution starts with ensuring that all government-authorized drug manufacturers receive an internationally certified GS1 barcode. As a result, governments can deliver secure healthcare and ensure the authenticity of pharmaceutical products at all touch points of the supply chain.

3. Why do you think that although there is a lot of buzz around digital transformation in the Middle East but the on-the-ground implementation does not compliment the buzz?

Contrary to the question, the UAE and the Middle East is seeing strong on-the-ground implementations of digital transformation. Indeed, every country is looking towards innovations such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and machine learning for transforming their businesses. And in the UAE and the Middle East, we’re seeing strong customer adoption of digital transformation agendas and cloud-based digital business models.

Middle East boardrooms need to understand that digital transformation is not a one-off project, but rather a journey. This journey often starts with working with a channel partner who is specialized in an industry vertical or in specialized solutions, and then identifying and deploying which technology solutions best meet their business needs, and finally commit to refreshing the solutions.

In the rapidly changing technology sector, equally important is for channel partners to upskill their own staff on the latest technology solutions and in turn transfer those skills and knowledge to their customers.

Demonstrating the strong success in our channel-led program, the Middle East and North Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for the SAP Global Alliance Partner Program. The MENA region saw 61 percent growth from 2015-2016, and channel coverage increased year-over-year by 25 percent.

4. What are the three things that people probably don’t know SAP is working on and will have them all excited?

1) SAP is Expo 2020 Dubai’s Innovative Enterprise Software Partner. As part of the partnership, we will co-innovate on 20+ SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA platforms that enable organizers and exhibitors to instantaneously analyze data to identify visitor trends and tailor the experience for an expected 25 million visitors.

2) We’re seeing strong interest on the recently-launched winnovate, powered by SAP, an initiative that helps the region to embrace innovation by offering collaborative learning opportunities and engaging programs based on various innovation methods. It is a catalyst for enquiring minds that are open to ground-breaking thinking methodologies and supports individuals and organizations alike.

3) Supporting UAE and Middle East and North Africa skills development of students, young graduates, and the experienced workforce, our SAP Training and Development Institute plans to build skills and knowledge among young talents worth USD 100 million by 2022, building on in-country value of USD 121 million since 2012.

5. Within the technology domain itself, why is there such a divided view on Artificial Intelligence? What are your views on investing more in it?

Artificial intelligence will be one of the world’s most transformational technologies in the coming years.

As computing power increases, storage costs plummet, and organizations need to analyze Big Data in the Internet of Things era, the UAE and Middle East are seeing strong demand for artificial intelligence solutions that will enable regional digital transformation. Artificial intelligence can help to deliver enhanced levels of customer service, hiring processes, and accelerated digital payments.

There’s a popular misconception that artificial intelligence will lead to widespread career elimination. Instead, we are entering a phase where artificial intelligence complements, rather than eliminates, the workforce, and frees up staff from rote manual processes to focus on critical-thinking problem solving and innovation.

Prominent industry vertical examples in adopting artificial intelligence include:

  • Oil and gas, which globally could see USD 50 billion in cost savings and profit from artificial intelligence. Oil and gas firms can plan investment around macro-economic conditions; optimize drilling; integrate of wells, reservoirs, and facility management; predict maintenance; and support drone surveillance and deliveries.

  • Medicine, law, and IT fields could see a major impact from artificial intelligence, with healthcare providers complementing human doctors with artificial intelligence and robots.

  • Retailers can predict fashion trends to match sales and inventory levels, and invoicing can learn from accountants’ actions for faster payments

Artificial intelligence is a major investment opportunity for SAP. We’re seeing strong demand for the SAP Leonardo Machine Learning digital innovation system, which embeds machine learning into applications. We are exchanging best practices with the SAP Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation and Partnership on Artificial Intelligence.

6. If you had to list one recent case study where SAP delivered an innovative solution to their client using technology, which one would it be and why?

Our SAP Co-Innovation Lab (COIL) in the UAE is collaborating with leading public and private sector organizations on innovative solutions:

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) - Launched a pilot project for the world’s first virtual reality remote inspection for utility maintenance, supporting the UAE in becoming one of the world’s most innovative countries, the Dubai Smart City initiative, and DEWA’s vision to become a sustainable and innovative world-class utility.

The pilot project combines autonomous robots from SAP’s VR and Internet of Things to remotely inspect DEWA’s electricity and water networks. As a result, DEWA will enhance its utility inspection and maintenance by making it faster, safer, and more cost-effective. DEWA is currently deploying the system as a proof of concept in a high-voltage power tunnel in Dubai.

Emirates NBD – The Emirates NBD Really! app, a prototype developed in cooperation with Emirates NBD and the SAP Co-Innovation Lab in the UAE, uses the latest SAP innovations in the Internet of Things, augmented and mixed reality to help home buyers across the globe investing in UAE with an immersive experience to find the home of their dreams, and make the housing loan process as easy as possible.

The Really! app combines beacons, SAP in-house virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality solutions running on the SAP Cloud Platform, Dubai Municipality’s geographic addressing system Makani, and customer loan information from Emirates NBD.

Using the Emirates NBD app, buyers can narrow options by cost; proximity to schools, shops, restaurants, and hospitals; commute time; and demographics, and take immersive tours of homes and floor plans, sitting in the comfort of their homes. Customers can also check Dubai housing trends to calculate the down payment, and loan type and amount and connect with an Emirates NBD home loan agent for the immersive experience to finalize the new home.