Influencing a Digital Transformation

Through collaboration of SAP University Alliances and the Instituto Superior Politécnico José Antonio Echeverría (CUJAE) I had the opportunity to present  “SAP Dando Impulso a la Transformación Digital” in Habana Cuba, a two-hour presentation introducing SAP, SAP Business One and how our technology can help a digital transformation.  A conference room filled with 218 participants (some standing up) eager to learn about SAP.  Participating students, teachers and representatives from 10 different industries  (Telecommunications, IT, Pharmaceuticals, Tobacco, Tourism, Agriculture, Construction, Logistics, Education and Banking) very much aware of the gradual change coming to Cuba and how their enterprises or institutions need to prepare with proven technologies and innovation to assist them in a unique digital transformation that will go together to the infrastructure transformation of their country.

Here I share a pic of a welcoming “Hello to SAP” from all the participants.


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It does not take you too long to be in Cuba to realize that the Jewel, the Uniqueness of Cuba is their people.  The well educated professionals with strong family bonds.  We often think of Cuba as a window to the past, of what might have been to be live in the 1950s, the old cars, old architecture and lack of technology and while all of that is true, it does not take too long to notice that the best of Cuba is the Cuban people with many well educated professionals.  Cuban doctors, teachers and musicians have earn and outstanding reputation globally and in the Americas for many decades.  I the past I have personally met them throughout Latin America and Europe.  During my talk and meetings in CUJAE I had the opportunity to meet teachers and professionals in Logistics, Business Process Management, Human Resources and Accounting. Many of them have completed advanced studies in Europe, especially Germany. Enterprise software is not new to them, they understand it very well and they even teach those concepts in university lectures and conferences. The United Nations created the HDI (Human Development Index) to emphasize that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country.  The measurable criteria is the following:

  1. Life Expectancy
  2. Mean of years in schooling for adults aged 25 years or more
  3. Expected years of schooling for children
  4. Standard of Living measured by the gross national income per capita (PIB – GNI)

Here is the positioning of Cuba in 2014 following these criteria.

  1. Life Expectancy. 
    • 33 in the world
    • 2 in Latin America
  2. Mean of years in schooling for adults aged 25 years or more
    • 71 in the world
    • 8 in Latin America
  3. Expected years of schooling for children
    • 30 in the world
    • 1st in Latin America
  4. Standard of Living measured by the gross national income per capita (PIB – GNI)
  • The average state wage is $20 dollars a month. I have personally meet top professionals in this trip with a wage of around $18 US dollars a month. Therefore in only this criteria Cuba’s position is of 114 in the world and 28 in Latin America.

What these numbers show me it is beyond comprehension for me is the fact that a country with so many economic challenges has accomplished and educational level so high without really having and economy to sustain it.

IT professionals might not be familiar with the all SAP solutions and platforms but they certainly have heard of SAP’s reputation in enterprise software and are anxious of learning more about it.  They understood the processes behind demos delivered during the presentation “Delivery Schedule Management” or “Analytics”.  There are plenty of things that need to happen for SAP to have a bigger presence in Cuba we are making the right first steps with SAP University Alliances.  Therefore for now it is a good sign that the only question after my presentation was “What is the price of SAP Business One?” and that participants tried to download the trial version of Lumina from Cuba but could not.

There is an air of change in Cuba everywhere you go and I am certain that such change will imply a digital transformation in businesses.   President Obama arrives in a few days, marking the first time a U.S president will visit Cuba in more than 80 years.  A historic trip with plans to kick-start U.S. business with Cuba.  He will be attending a baseball game of the Cuban National Team vs the Tampa Bay Rays, The Rolling Stones arrive a few days later.  In the Cuban news I also heard of US Jazz Musicians planning joined performances with Cuban musicians.  There is a transformation that will take place in this country no doubt about it. However, I find beauty in feeling completely save walking at all hours, in having WIFI in only designated parks, having only 10 TV channels and not knowing what is the Google Maps App.  The influence of technology and innovation in a region should be measure by the Quality of Life such technology can bring to citizens.  For Cuba I wish that such digital transformation would guard the quality of life that I have seen in the Cuban people.

My BIG THANK YOU to Professor Igor Lopes Martinez  and faculty from CUJAE for making my first visit and first presentation from SAP in Cuba a wonderful experience.  I already look forward to future visits.

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  1. Jan-Gerrit Groeneveld

    Wonderful blog, a homage to the Cuban Way of Life.

    participants tried to download the trial version of SAP Lumina from Cuba but could not“. Franklin, let’s make this happen and do a hackathon or viz contest in La Havana, the sleeping beauty 🙂 .

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