They say a man’s work is a reflection of who he is. Most of the time it can be seen in his work output and, sometimes, in his work environment. So when one walks into an office strategically decorated with murals and things that depict some of the best places in the Philippines, one can immediately feel the affinity he has for the country and the people he works with. Meet Darren Rushworth, the managing director of SAP Philippines Inc. The company is part of SAP SE (Systems Applications Products in Data Processing), a European multinational software corporation that is considered as one of the largest in the world.
SAP is best known as makers of enterprise software that help manage business operations and customer relations. Headquartered in Walldorf, Germany, it was founded by IBM Engineers, Dietmar Hopp, Hans-Werner Hector, Hasso Plattner, Klaus Tschira, and Claus Wellenreuther, who were then working on an enterprise-wide system based on the Scientific Data Systems/SAPE software for IBM. While working on the project, they were told that their project would be terminated. Rather than abandon what they were already working on, they decided to leave IBM Tech and start another company on their own. In June 1972, they founded the Systemanalyse undo Programmentwicklung (System Analysis and Program Development). The acronym was later changed to stand for Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing.
Among others, SAP software products and solutions include enterprise resource planning (ERP); the enterprise data warehouse product (SAP Business Warehouse); SAP Business Objects Software, Sybase mobile products, the in-memory computing appliance called SAP HANA, and the SAP Business Suite.
SAP formally opened its corporate offices in the Philippines in 1995. Rushworth explained that they are completely focused on Philippine companies, and currently have about 1,000 customers which, he said, include “pretty much all the biggest Philippine conglomerates, and stretches down to literally the small businesses. So we have a very broad range of customers here.” He said their customers cut across all the major industries, although their top five would be utilities, telecommunications carriers, consumer goods manufacturers, property development entities, and services-related industries. SAP Philippines is also working closely with its customers in government as well as in retail.
Rushworth said that the company’s very first multinational customer in the Philippines was Shell Corporation, while the first Philippine company was San Miguel Corporation. According to their corporate data, nine out of ten corporations in the Philippines run SAP, with 72-percent of the top 50 corporations in the Philippines also using their various business software solutions. At the same time, Rushworth pointed out that about 75-percent of their Philippine customers can be classified as small and medium scale businesses.
The SAP Philippines’ managing director explained their corporate vision through some of their objectives. “Our whole objective is to help businesses run better.” He admits there are some unique challenges the country faces in terms of being up-to-date with the latest technologies. However, he emphasized that most small and medium-sized businesses are more open to using technology to help run their businesses more efficiently. “We are one of the most successful SAP subsidiaries in SMB in the world. If you look at the percentage, we are probably number one in the world in terms of penetration for the SMB market,” Rushworth noted. He added that this is a great sign that Filipinos are most open to using new technologies, which also means greater potential for growth for SAP.
Rushworth, moreover, said that the business trends he currently sees in the Philippine market is another reason to be very positive in terms of growth. In particular, he said they are seeing very good adoption rates of businesses’ migration to the cloud and using cloud-based solutions. He also said that e-commerce will become very big, with a significant percentage happening in mobile commerce, especially now that the country is showing good economic figures.
These days, Rushworth said he has more reasons to be excited about the future. Apart from a rosy outlook for SAP Philippines, he said they are participating in the regular Asia CEO Forum as one of its sponsors, noting that it is a testament of their faith in the Philippines’ greater potential for growth. He also revealed that he has a young family with two children who occupy most of his free time, elated that he is raising them in a country he has grown very fond of. While he grew up in Australia, he had always wanted to try living in Asia, he said. He found that opportunity when he got a job offer to work in the Philippines for another company some years back. “I remember in 1996, if I walked in Makati and saw another foreigner, I probably knew them nine times out of ten. When I came back for a second time in 2010, I saw the Philippines had completely transformed. There were expats everywhere, the BPO sector had taken off, and now I’d be lucky if there was one in ten that I knew,” Rushworth related. He said that he is happy with this development even as he promises to do more to personally give back to the country he now calls his second home. And pretty much like the corporate vision of SAP, he said he would try doing so by helping one business at a time.