Interview: Angela Colantuono on leadership, challenges, transformation and customer centricity

Published: 07/March/2024

Reading time: 6 mins

Key Takeaways

⇨ Angela Colantuono, President and Managing Director of SAP ANZ to keynote Mastering SAP Collaborate event

⇨ Says key to any successful transformation is continuous and open dialogue with customers and partners

⇨ Focused on bringing new AI-enabled enterprise innovations to drive the operational efficiencies and productivity improvements

In January 2024, Angela Colantuono was appointed President and Managing Director of SAP ANZ. Mastering SAP is pleased to announce that Angela will be part of the keynote opening at the Mastering SAP Collaborate event in Melbourne on 22-23 May 2024.

We sat down with Angela to get her take on her leadership role, the future of SAP in ANZ and what customers can expect from SAP in 2024 and beyond.


1. What’s the most challenging thing you see customers battling with in 2024?

Our customers are operating in a volatile economy with high inflation and interest rates, productivity at some of its lowest levels, and ongoing supply chain disruptions.

Beyond this, the climate continues to change, and this not only impacts business operations, but our customers are also heavily investing in sustainability-oriented initiatives as they seek to create a more sustainable world.

All of this while tackling issues like skills shortages, wage growth and the rising costs of raw materials means our customers need to have the agility, speed, and confidence to navigate a turbulent macro economy.

We are constantly sitting down with our customers across industry sectors to uncover their current challenges and needs and we’re seeing a shift in their end goals – rather than pure focus on revenue growth, they’re seeking new ways for driving productivity and better enabling their people; and investing in the tools, technology, and training to help them in this shift.

That’s where SAP comes in – we help our customers overcome their challenges and build future-readiness so that they’re ready to take on the obstacles of today and whatever is around the corner. Our technology doesn’t just improve business, but it makes a real difference to people’s lives.


2. How do you see your strong HR and people focus from your SuccessFactors experience factoring into your leadership of SAP ANZ?

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be stepping into the role of President and Managing Director of SAP ANZ, and I’m looking forward to bringing all of my experience into the role from over the last two years as the Senior Vice President and Head of SAP SuccessFactors for APJ.

During my tenure in that role, SAP SuccessFactors grew to become the leading HR solution for Asia-Pacific and it’s because our human experience management solutions put employee experience and engagement at the heart of an organisation. In any business, your people should be the centre of everything. That’s the premise of the technology and it is the focus of my leadership at SAP.

When people are engaged, motivated, and inspired, they are high performing and drive fantastic results for our customers. I want to ensure all of my team feel heard and are given regular opportunities to stretch their capabilities and grow.


3. What do you foresee will be the greatest challenge for SAP locally in 2024? And to 2026?

SAP’s vision is to be the number one enterprise cloud company and leader in Business AI. We’re already seeing great momentum as we transition many of our on-premise customers to the cloud, with Q4 cloud revenue in APJ up 28% to €499 million, offering those customers greater agility, adaptability and opportunity for innovation.

For those customers who haven’t yet made the move to the cloud, we’ll continue to work in close partnership alongside our partners to help them make the move, no matter how big or small they are. This will be a key focus for us this year and beyond because when our customers move to the cloud, they’re able to take advantage of innovations including advanced analytics and AI.

We know, however, that key to any successful transformation is continuous and open dialogue with our customers and partners as we do our best work when we work together as one.


4. With plans for digital transformation initiatives and cloud migration projects proliferating across the SAP customer base – for customers at the start of the journey, where is the best place to start and what matters more – people, process or technology? And why?

Really, it’s a matter of all three; a successful digital transformation requires a collaborative focus on people, processes, and technology.

For example, AusNet, who is responsible for managing the distribution and transmission networks that provide power to over 1.5 million Victorians, embarked on an HR transformation with SAP. This was driven in part due to its previous siloed systems that created inefficient and time-consuming processes for its employees.

The process to transform the business was a collaborative one, with AusNet working in close partnership with SAP and consulting partner IBM to consolidate 38 business processes from 3 systems into 1 over a 10-month period.

The transformation was a success and as a result, AusNet has simplified the employee experience by standardising business processes, reducing HR administrative work, and consolidating processes so there are fewer touchpoints for its staff.


5. SAP have a determined strategy to be more customer centric and ensure customers get real business benefit from their cloud ERP, is the strategy working and how might your execution of that strategy be different?

SAP is laser focused on our Customer Value Journey (CVJ). We’ve moved to a model of continuous engagement, where in lockstep with our partners, we deliver accelerated cloud transformation and value along the entire customer journey. With a focus on driving adoption and consumption, we want our customers to get the most (and fastest!) value from our solutions.

We believe our formula for success has been to re-examine the customer relationship, not only to provide the cloud solution and help customers go live, but to support them through every step of the journey. We finetune along the way and derive value at every corner – and at scale.

Going forward, we are working with our partner ecosystem to extend our technology through partner-built, industry specific solutions and services. Not only does it make our technology more accessible and adaptable, but we know that our partners’ industry knowledge and implementation services are critical in driving our customers’ success.


6. In terms of newer technologies – eg., BTP, cloud, clean core – what would you say to customers keen to stay on ECC rather than move to these newer technologies that add huge migration costs to their business?

Whilst we recognise the amount of change that comes with moving to the cloud, it allows our customers to access and explore boundless avenues of growth in AI, data, analytics, and sustainability.

Take for example, SAP’s AI co-pilot, Joule, which will revolutionise how our customers interact with their SAP business systems. Joule will streamline tasks for our customers by more quickly accessing insights and providing tailored content, whilst allowing our customers to maintain full control over decision-making.

Our customers are hungry for innovation and new digital experiences to improve productivity, and with an ever-changing macroeconomic landscape, it’s never been more important for them to have access to the technologies that deliver them greater agility, speed, and confidence.


7. Can you tell me a little more about the innovations customers might expect this year? And how might AI figure in that?

Well, I can’t share too much detail on what’s to come, but what I can share is that SAP is focused on bringing new AI-enabled enterprise innovations that will help our customers drive the operational efficiencies and productivity improvements needed to operate in today’s volatile business environment.

We’re doing so through the creation of a new dedicated end-to-end growth area focused on AI, which will be responsible for infusing artificial intelligence into every part of our solution portfolio and accelerating the pace at which every one of our customers can benefit from relevant, reliable, and responsible AI.

We’re also investing close to €1 billion into AI over the next two years, ensuring our customers have access to world-class business applications that help them unlock their full potential.


8. The Mastering SAP community is looking forward to welcoming you to the keynote stage at our May event – is there a specific message you’d like to send to our community?

A key takeaway I wanted everyone at our annual sales and partner kickoffs earlier this year to leave with is that 2024 is all about being bold. Being bold in working with our customers, challenging each other, and being inspirational. Our product innovation is accelerating faster than ever, and our customers are ready to transform and improve productivity. It’s going to be a super busy year ahead and the Mastering SAP community will be critical to our joint success.

More Resources

See All Related Content