How SAP Canada is approaching the evolving Canadian business eco-system

ORLANDO – As it marks its 30th anniversary in Canda, SAP Canada Inc. has created quite a strong presence in the country.

Over the years, it has established offices in Calgary, Montreal, and the Canadian headquarters in Toronto. It has R&D hubs in Vancouver, Waterloo, and Montreal. It boasts over 16,000 customers – including the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil and Bombardier Inc. – and approximately 3,200 employees, including 2,500 developers.

Despite all of this, as the Canadian business eco-system continues to change, SAP Canada is continuing to evolve its strategy to meet those changes, said COO Sam Masri in an interview with ITWC.

Sam Masri, COO of SAP Canada.

“I think we’ve built the experience and the knowledge base over these years to understand the Canadian ecosystem, the Canadian economy, the Canadian marketplace, as it pertains to the software industry. And it’s been ever-changing, especially in the tech industry. It’s one of those industries that things change every day. And if we don’t adapt and address these changes, we will not be relevant to our customers,” said Masri. “So it’s just part of the DNA now. Given the knowledge that we have. Given the global strategy that we have and how we can have cascade that down to the Canadian market. It’s been a great, amazing, evolving and developing journey.”

One of the reasons that Masri believes the Canadian marketplace is changing, is the increased adoption of technology and innovation in recent years. While he said he believed Canada lagged behind the rest of the world for many years, some recent investments by the federal government in tech innovation are changing that.

“Everything changed over the last few years. It’s been fascinating to see how customers are now leaning in and trying to get on the transformation journey much faster and much more efficiently than they did in the past,” Masri said in reference to Canadian companies’ digital transformations. “It’s been a journey of kind of slow adoption but it’s picked up and now we’re actually doing way better than some of the other market units in the world.”

And SAP Canada has even been meeting with government representatives – including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – to try and push the innovation agenda in hopes of bettering the tech and business landscape as a whole, as well as to make a push for more digitally advanced governments at all levels.

“For the first time ever, we had our CEO meet with Canada’s Prime Minister just a few months ago and all that was discussed. And we’re actually in active discussions with the government to find out how we can drive the innovation agenda, but also in driving some of the efficiency and innovation mandates for the federal government, provincial governments, and some of the municipalities and cities as well,” he said.

SAP CEO, Bill McDermott, at his meeting with Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

One of the recent developments at SAP that Masri said he is most excited about is the recent acquisition of Qualtrics by SAP SE, a company that develops experience management tools co-headquartered in Provo, UT and Seattle, WA. Acquired this past November for $8 billion USD, Qualtrics has already become a big part of SAP’s solutions, and Masri says it excites him greatly to see how quickly SAP Canada’s customers are adopting an experience-oriented approach and integrating the Qualtrics tools into their operations, referencing the 50 per cent growth of Qualtrics employees in Canada in the last 12 months, as well as the 22 new customers in Q1 of 2019.

“I’m very passionate about that. As a company, we have been focused in the past on what we call O-data. O-data is all about the operations.  Today, it’s all about what customers want, when they want it, and how do you give it to them as soon as you can,” he said. “So it’s all about building great experiences and that only happens when you listen to a customer. So I think we as a company recognize the need from our customers to kind of have these two worlds come together.”

SAP customers have been adopting the Qualtrics platform more eagerly in the last quarter, Masri says. It’s just one more tool they can use to unearth their company’s unique story and craft a great experience for the customer.

Buckley Smith’s travel and accommodations to cover SAPPHIRE NOW were paid for by SAP. This story was not reviewed externally before publication.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Buckley Smith
Buckley Smith
Staff writer for IT World Canada. Covering the world of technology as it applies to business. Buckley is an avid sports fan who loves travel, food, and music. Can be contacted at [email protected] or 416-290-2000.

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