SAP Research CEC Pretoria

Dr Danie Smit
Senior Research Scientist, SAP Research Laboratory, Pretoria

SAP Research Laboratory in Pretoria (SAP Research CEC Pretoria) is the ninth and latest research laboratory to be established, and is the first in the developing world. It has been operating for just over a year.

The focus is on “Technologies for Emerging Economies” – a wide area of interest. Globalisation make IT an ever more urgent concern for developing countries. Appropriate technology can improve the lives of millions of disadvantaged people. But also it is likely that solutions created in the developing world can improve the lives of people in developed countries. The quest is for solutions relevant to the developing world.

Alternative licensing and pricing models are thus an important part of the research. Context specific business processes also need to catered for – some business processes differ in developed and developed countries. There are also possibilities for local product development.

Health, education, government, agriculture, and civil society are typical areas where the South African Research Unit performs most of its research. The Gartner Group have predicted that developing countries such as South Africa, India and China will, to a significant extent, shape the future of ICT. Although they have a low average per capita income at present, there are some tens of millions of people – potential users – in the developing world: the market potential is there if it is suitably addressed. Part of this is for SAP to be an engaged organisation, to give something back to the community.

Danie demonstrated SAP’s approach to problem analysis using the example of knowledge management in the South African context. They wish to focus on the user side – on the user experience of technology: consequently they have a major interest in user needs analysis.

Present projects include e-health (e.g. chronic lifestyle diseases in conjunction with the University of the Witwatersrand), e-Learning and “Business systems for NGO's”.

They seek to partner with the expertise of others, and to contribute to human capital development. SAP recently launched a joint research Initiative with the SA government's Meraka Institute. SAP design with open standards to facilitate interoperation with open source software. SAP is keen to work with MSA to receive supervisory support from faculty for its PhD students on SAP scholarships, and also to provide placements for Monash students for work experience.