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In case you missed my last blog post, I’m taking the BHAG on the road to Singapore to head up Analytics for SAP in Asia-Pacific Japan (APJ). I’ve already been meeting with and customers in the region, and at the end of last month I keynoted at the SAP Innovation Forum in Indonesia. This was the first of a series of about 20 Innovation Forums we’ll be holding throughout APJ throughout the spring and summer.

The purpose is to get the word out here about SAP’s transformation from an ERP-driven company to an Analytics-driven company. The key message is that we’re shifting our focus from systems of record to systems of engagement. It’s a message we’ve been spreading globally for the past year or so, but for the most part that message hasn’t reached APJ yet so this is a way to do that. It’s also a great opportunity for customers to network with the local SAP ecosystem.

Although the message is the same across the region, we expect gatherings in each country to have a distinctive flavor depending on the local industries and where they are in their economic development. I want to tell you about as many as I can, to get you thinking about where opportunity might lie for you and your company.

We had about 70 people turn up for the Indonesia event, despite a protest demonstration blocking streets and snarling traffic. It was a good metaphor for the country as a whole: There are some political challenges, but business people are focused on economic growth and they’re determined to move ahead.

Most of the CIOs attending represented infrastructure companies–banks, food companies and the like. But, China recently invested $17B USD there in exchange for mining rights so look for that segment to grow. In fact, 10 years Indonesia will be a lot like China is now.

There are more people in Indonesia than in the U.S.—nearly 300 million people. There are tons of natural resources that haven’t been harvested, and there is a young, low cost labor pool. China’s labor costs are rising, and the high adult to child ratio is pushing the country toward a service economy to care for the elderly. Indonesia has an opportunity to step in and become the next manufacturing base so they’re trying to set up the whole infrastructure for that.

As far as enterprise software goes, they don’t have all the first generation stuff. They don’t have old line ERP systems. Everything is new technology, so upgrading the infrastructure is relatively easy.

But there are other challenges. We talked a lot about import and export trade and what it takes to compete on a global and multi-national level. One challenge is that things are moving fast, and companies don’t know what’s going to change, so they can’t get a handle on the rules and regulations piece Throughout the region, there’s a complexity around rules and regulations that we don’t have in the U.S. and Europe, and they don’t have GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance) infrastructure in place. That’s an opportunity here for SAP and our partners.

The SAP APJ Innovation Forum tour heads to the Phillipines on April 19th, where I’ll be keynoting, and to India and Japan later this month. We’ll be in Australia, Vietnam, Pakistan and Singapore in May, and Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan in Q3. Follow me on Twitter @bilafer for updates, join the conversation at #SAPAPJ, and if you know someone who needs to be there, send them my way.

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