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Enabling Qatar's SMEs: SAP's Gergi Abboud On The Company's Offerings For Entrepreneurs As the Managing Director of the Gulf, North Africa, Pakistan, Levant for SAP, Gergi Abboud keeps a close eye on the Middle East business arena, and so, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Qatar is one of his company's key markets in this region, with its SME sector ranking highly in terms of SAP's focus areas.

By Aparajita Mukherjee

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Gergi Abboud, Managing Director of the Gulf, North Africa, Pakistan, Levant for SAP

As the Managing Director of the Gulf, North Africa, Pakistan, Levant for SAP, Gergi Abboud keeps a close eye on the Middle East business arena, and so, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Qatar is one of his company's key markets in this region, with its SME sector ranking highly in terms of SAP's focus areas. We spoke to Abboud on SAP's offerings in Qatar, and how its solutions benefit SMEs in the country:

Take us through SAP's main business offerings in Qatar, and which of them have the biggest takers? Which sector is your biggest client?

We are seeing strong Qatar demand for solutions running on the in-memory SAP HANA platform, SAP S/4HANA real-time business suite, and SAP Leonardo Internet of Things platform, SuccessFactors and Ariba. These real-time analytics solutions help Qatar's organizations to run simple and improve the customer experience, drive innovative business models in the digital economy, and help governments and cities to improve people's lives.

Among Qatar's industry verticals, there is strong demand in the public sector and government, energy, oil, and gas, sport, and retail. SAP is working closely with Qatar's leading public and private sector organizations on co-innovation partnerships. Over the past year, SAP has seen strong momentum– with prominent partnerships including Aspire Academy for youth development and real-time training and match analytics, and Nakilat (Qatar Gas Transport Company) on solutions running on a private cloud that streamline and simplify management and maintenance.

Technology is the backbone of a company such as SAP. How does SAP differentiate its offerings when it comes to the ERP solutions?

Qatar is one of the most important markets for SAP in the Middle East and North Africa. SAP's main differentiators are our highly experienced on-the-ground team in Qatar, our robust channel partner ecosystem in Qatar, and our breadth and depth of solutions that can help Qatar's organizations run simple and drive citizen and customer happiness.

SAP solutions, covering 25 industries and 12 lines of business, are incredibly simple to deploy and use, and can be deployed in on-premise, cloud, and hybrid environments. The SAP Training and Development Institute also localizes SAP solutions to local market needs in Qatar, including Arabization, government compliance regulations, and the Hijri Islamic calendar.

What is SAP's take on how SMEs can integrate into the business mainstream by tech adoption, though they are bound to have budget constraints? What is the degree of applicability of SAP solutions in Qatar?

Small businesses are the vast majority of Qatar's businesses, and a major provider of jobs, and are vital for driving Qatar's diversified economic growth and job creation. SAP is fully aligned to enabling Qatar's small businesses to deploy the innovative solutions that provide the same economic capabilities as large enterprises. We extend the customer process all the way to their suppliers through our unique offering on Ariba's Network and to their extended workforce through Fieldglass and to their connected things through SAP Leonardo and to their customers through Hybris Omnichannel.

Thanks to their agile technology infrastructure, Qatar's small businesses are ideally positioned to adopt the latest innovative solutions, especially in the pay-as-you-go opex model of the cloud. SAP is localizing global best practices in working with small businesses, with the majority of SAP's 345,000 global customers being small businesses.

How typical is Qatar as a market? How much of your offerings did you have to tweak for Qatar? Do regional markets such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi have anything in common?

Qatar shares many similarities with global leaders and the GCC– including government-led nationwide digital transformation plans, high levels of technology infrastructure, and visionary C-suite executives.

With that said, every market is unique– and Qatar's differentiators including connected sports and stadium technology in the build-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and the nationwide digital transformation led by Qatar National Vision 2030. Qatar also hosts very strong retail sector growth with the opening of new malls, and Future Cities potential with examples such as connected rail and mass transit, and Lusail Smart City.

Demonstrating the technology innovation potential in Qatar, one recent report shows that Qatar's commercial sector ICT spend is set to grow by 50% to US$3 billion by 2019.

Related: How Kuwait-Based Logistics Giant Agility Is Embracing Digital Disruption

Aparajita Mukherjee

Senior Journalist, Entrepreneur Qatar

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