The shift from traditional business models to the Internet has steadily gained momentum during the last decade.
Companies no longer need a team of experts to install, test and run hardware and software; they simply open a browser, log in and start using their applications.
Here, SAP cloud presales manager Peter Majeed explains how the mining industry can benefit from cloud computing.
What type of cloud solutions does SAP offer?
Peter Majeed: Basically, we provide a full portfolio of cloud solutions through five key areas ranging from what we call 'money' - that's our financials, projects and expense management-type solutions in the cloud - to 'customers', which is where we provide sales team empowerment; things like sales and operation planning.
The third focus is the 'suppliers' where provide the ability for organisations to manage the supply networks and to manage contracting and procurement.
Then we have our 'people focus' which allows our customers to manage human capital. Finally, we have our 'suite solution' - that is our ERP in the cloud for subsidiaries.
How do cloud solutions work in the mining industry?
PM: I order to answer that, it helps to think about the environment that mining organisations work in. One of the things that I have noticed is that our customers need to be reactive to situations, they need to understand the environment they work in and they need to be able to say quite quickly, 'I've got an opportunity here, how can I make the most of it?'
Or, in a negative situation, 'Something's happening here, how can I best the limit the impact to our business?' This is where cloud comes into its own.
With our social analytics tool, it allows our companies to manage their brand perception by helping them to promote their brand further or limit the impact of negative branding. Cloud solutions also allow customers to understand their supplier networks. In the mining industry there is a large network of suppliers.
Do you think that mining companies' existing infrastructure is unable to achieve the desired level of performance?
PM: I think there's going to be horses for courses here because when it comes to niche solutions, [mining companies] will probably use their existing on site solutions, but when it comes to quick deployment and solutions that extend their current functionality, that's where they will probably look at the cloud.
Cloud systems can be ready for deployment in 48 hours and what this means is that business sets the pace and not the IT capability and because it's a cloud solution it is comprehensive; everything is delivered via the service.
Should companies worry about breaches in security when sharing data through a cloud?
PM: We take this very seriously and because we take it seriously, we've ensured that security is at the highest level, so we provide our own data centres in the US and Germany and we make sure the highest levels of standards are audited each year by a third party.
What new solutions can the mining industry expect from SAP next year?
PM: In terms of cloud solutions, what we are putting out there for the mining industry is our suite solution. What we have found is that whenever mining companies are involved in joint ventures or subsidiaries, they tend to be looking for a solution that they can deploy very quickly.
We worked with a company recently who had just started exploring projects in Africa in a joint venture and its plan, once the mine went live, was to roll out their global template and use SAP ECC [ERP Central Component]. In the interim period of two years before the mine went live, the company needed a solution that it could get up and running very quickly to manage the project and to understand how much it was spending on it and to get its reports consolidated.
One of the topics at the conference was 'the digital mining revolution: are mining companies ready'. Are they ready?
PM: I think companies are starting to look at this very seriously and I think most companies are ready. I have seen a range of organisations in the mining industry and some are more progressive than others, so I think the answer yes, but I think it will progressively become more so.
From my experience - even though I don't specialise in mining - I've actually worked with quite a few mining companies and over the past five years I have found that some of our customers are coming to us because they are starting to realise that SAP is investing a lot into the cloud area.
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