“Covid-19 revealed supply chain holes for hundreds of thousands of companies”

Speaking at Calcalist and Accenture’s Innovation Week, SAP Labs Israel managing director talks about the urgency of going digital

Tomer Hadar 16:4231.01.21
“If we examine what makes up ‘digital transformation’ or the ‘digital revolution’, then we’re talking about a change process that began taking place in some organizations years ago already, not something brand new,” Orna Kleinmann, Managing Director of SAP Labs Israel said during Calcalist and Accenture’s Israel Innovation Week online conference. “The changes brought about during the year of the pandemic are just in the levels of speed and urgency at which companies were suddenly required to undergo the process.”


“If usually, we talk about companies’ five-year-plans or gradual changes that their IT department carried out, this year it was all about three facets of digital urgency: Customer relations, employee management, and supply chain management,” Kleinmann said.


Orna Kleinmann. Photo: Shay Yehezkel Orna Kleinmann. Photo: Shay Yehezkel

“At around January or February of last year, when the pandemic broke out, the supply chains of hundreds of thousands of companies around the world were disrupted. Holes were revealed in the supply chain. It began with the closing off of China, which provides 70% of the world’s raw materials, which caused manufacturers of vehicles, computers, or phones to run out. Other countries succumbed one after another, companies collapsed, and huge delays were caused. SAP has been dealing with supply chain management for more than four decades, lately, we’ve been referring to it as digital supply chain management,” Kleinmann said.



“We manage a network that features millions of suppliers, called Ariba Discovery, so for example, if you need help because you’re short on copper wire or a digital component for a certain product, you can turn to suppliers via the network to see who might have some in stock. The first one to answer will benefit, making it easy to substitute suppliers,” Kleinmann explained. “In the past, it was possible to conduct tenders and select from the most convenient and affordable bids, but during the pandemic, a more immediate short-term solution was required. The ability to connect to this type of network of suppliers, like a social network for suppliers and customers, lets you make predictions on what may be in shortage in the longer term to avoid getting stuck without components. In SAP Labs Israel, we have been responsible for the past three years for parts of the network’s customer experience elements.”


“In the past, this field was known as CRM and later as eCommerce. Gigya Israel, for example, which SAP acquired in 2018, specializes in user identity. We all know what happened to the retail and eCommerce sectors last year. Use went up dramatically, and we, as users, don’t want to be the product anymore. We don’t want our click history on an online shopping site to be abused. For that reason, you need to develop technologies to enable user management and security, meaning to create a privacy agreement with the user to determine how data is used. If, for example, a person logs on to a large eCommerce site to purchase shoes or clothing, they would reach an agreement over what could be done with the client’s data, perhaps offering a discount if they allow that data to be used,” Kleinmann suggested.


“SAP Labs Israel, which employs 800 people, was built off of 11 acquisitions, the most recent of which were in the field of customer experience. We are very engaged with the Israeli market and I believe that we can reach good deals here that combine value with highly-trained personnel and mature technology that is ready to be integrated into large companies. The cost is good relative to the value and we anticipate great success in integrating these companies,” Kleinmann said.”


Kleinmann noted that SAP continues to seek out and take part in collaborations in Israel and aims to carry out further acquisitions. "However, it should be recalled that SAP Labs is physically located in Israel, meaning it is affected, for better or worse, by fluctuations in the currency exchange rates.”