Luka Mucic, SAP COO: The full interview
We speak to Luka Mucic, global COO and CFO at SAP, who details the company’s ongoing investments in the MENA region
A few years ago, you guys made a big commitment to the MENA region, to the tune of $450 million. How has that gone so far?
Actually we are very proud about how far we have progressed in the last few years. I'm serving as the board sponsor for the region, so it's definitely near and dear to my heart. If you take a look at it, purely from a numbers perspective, we started in this region in 2007, when we took over the distribution rights, with about 30 employees. We're now approaching 700 or 750 people here in the region.
More important, obviously, is that we are seeing great traction in our customer base. We are now adding about four new names every week. We are slowly approaching 2,000 customers here in the region, so this is a very nice trajectory. And while we started to have an install base in our traditionally strong industries, such as manufacturing and as oil and gas, now we are really expanding broadly into other industries.
Our growth plan has always been founded on the premise that we need to enable a strong in-country and in-region capability build-up. That's why we've invested heavily in training and education programmes. We have more than 100 university alliances here in the region; we've touched many, many thousands of students in the education system with SAP technology; we have our own young professional development programmes, and we've generated, since we launched the growth plan, about $66 million of in-country value for these education programmes.
And the last qualitative factor that's also crucial in this region, and I would say a real differentiator for SAP as a global company, is that we have invested heavily in localisation with our solutions. As we all know, the intricacies of the regulatory environment in some of these countries, the predictability of having the Islamic calendar capabilities, the whole language capabilities, is highly critical. And in this area we are quite advanced with our localisation activities. These are also corporate investments that could not happen at a purely local level; they are part of the growth plan as well. But they're making us very competitive.