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By 3 March 2020 | Categories: news

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Today, two tech titans - Microsoft and SAP - announced a partnership to accelerate business’ journey to the cloud, and revealed the first customer - Standard Bank - to benefit from their Project Embrace. 

“The Project Embrace initiative between Microsoft and SAP announced globally last year is centred around the customer journey to SAP S/4HANA and SAP Cloud Platform on Microsoft Azure,” explained

Lillian Barnard, the managing director of Microsoft South Africa. “The work that we are doing with Standard Bank is the first local demonstration of this partnership, and another milestone in the journey Microsoft is on with Standard Bank, to bring innovation into every aspect of the bank’s IT system and enable enriched interactions with the bank’s customers,” she elaborated.

In rubber meets the road terms, the project sees Standard Bank South Africa moving its core SAP Cloud Platform services to Microsoft Azure,so as to create a unified approach to how Standard Bank runs SAP S/4HANA in the cloud. This, in turn, will  help the bank deliver a faster time-to-market on products and services, while ensuring its IT infrastructure is optimised. As well, moving workloads to the cloud will enable Standard Bank to access a range of features that it can deploy instantly and scale according to demand. This will result in cost reductions, improved system performance, and access to innovation.

For Standard Bank customers, it means that the bank will be able to “significantly improve” the experience customers have with the bank, while enabling it to introduce new solutions to market more efficiently, and move closer to constant availability.

Lillian Barnard, Sabelo Nkwanyana and Cathy Smith

Beyond that, the partnership brings together SAP and Microsoft, along with a global network of selected system integrators, to move on-premise SAP ERP and SAP S/4HANA customers to the cloud through industry-specific best practices, reference architectures and cloud-delivered services.

Cathy Smith, the managing director of SAP Africa, explained that it found its customers were at an inflection point on their digital journey, with significant challenges being experienced across all industries. “At the same time, many of our customers have to contend with the changing needs of consumers, who base their purchasing decisions on their experiences with a company. This is making businesses re-examine how they go to market,” she elaborated. The problem is that the breadth of different solutions, products and suppliers to effectively transform their businesses digitally is only confusing organisations, a problem which compelled Microsoft and SAP to sit down together and see how they could simplify their customer’s digital journey.

Speaking on the SAP partnership specifically, Barnard explained that Project Embrace has three tenets at its heart: simplify, accelerate and innovate. “By accelerating our customers’ digital transformation journey, we are enabling them to become agile, efficient digital enterprises on Microsoft Azure - with a cloud platform optimised for SAP - leveraging best practice and specialist expertise,” she enthused. 

 “Today’s announcement is the biggest partnership centred on SAP implementation in Africa. With client experience a key strategic pillar for Standard Bank, Project Embrace reflects the shared commitment of both SAP and Microsoft to accelerate our customers’ journey to the cloud,” noted Smith.

“Doing business today is not about competing with other players in the industry, but rather about collaborating together so as to most benefit the customer or end user,” she stressed. 

Sabelo Nkwanyana, Standard Bank’s CIO for Personal and Business Banking SA, asserted that leveraging the computing power of Microsoft and the product innovation capability of SAP demonstrates how Standard Bank is embracing partnerships and ecosystems to develop customised solutions for its clients.

“SAP has a deep understanding of our business requirements and how we want to ensure our customers are happy with our service offering. This partnership continues our focus on innovation by leveraging the respective skills of SAP and Microsoft to transform the digitisation and personalisation journey for our customers,” he concluded.

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