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Securing business-critical processes in the cloud

by David Yawalkar, Global Head Operational Product Marketing for RISE with SAP

by Tia

African enterprises are transforming their operations through the accelerating adoption of cloud technologies. 

As companies continue to face disruption and a challenging operating environment, their ability to leverage technology to build greater agility, resilience and sustainability has become paramount. And at the centre of this transformation is the cloud.  

A report by McKinsey revealed that African businesses could benefit from a healthy share of the estimated $3-trillion in economic value presented by cloud technologies.  

According to PwC’s Africa Cloud Business Survey 2023, half of African companies have already adopted cloud capabilities, with 61% of companies expected to have moved all their operations to the cloud within the next two years.  

Key challenges to accelerated cloud adoption 

However, same PwC report highlights key constraints to broader cloud adoption in the region, including budget pressure, skills shortages, cybersecurity risks and regulatory challenges.  

SAP research found that four in five African organisations reported a negative impact stemming from a lack of tech skills, including customer loss (60%), diminished innovation capacity (53%), and an inability to meet customer needs (46%).  

Budget pressures persist in the wake of the constrained economy left in the wake of the pandemic and exacerbated by ongoing supply chain pressures and geopolitical upheaval. And Africa’s regulatory landscape continues to introduce complexity as each of the continent’s 54 countries require compliance with its own set of laws and regulations.  

Considering the foundation of many organisations’ business transformation efforts is the adoption of cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) capabilities, one of the most important aspects of business transformation lies in the domain of cybersecurity. 

Vital role of cloud ERP adds pressure to secure 

Cloud ERP sits at the heart of every company’s business transformation. The adoption of cloud ERP enables companies to focus on improving and automating their business processes, with the cloud allowing companies to focus on application management while the provider helps ensure systems remain stable, secure and compliant. 

Companies are also increasingly adopting a clean core with optimal master data quality and perfected business process governance, delivering improved maintainability, reduced complexity, and lower total cost of ownership. 

The rush to leverage powerful artificial intelligence capabilities underpinned by accurate, real-time business data facilitated by cloud ERP, can also improve and accelerate decision-making throughout every layer of the business. Business AI tools such as SAP’s Joule facilitate not only the collaboration between end-users but also how end-users are interacting with core business systems, enabling them to work more efficiently and resolve issues much quicker. 

But the critical role of cloud ERP and the wealth of business data such systems contain makes them attractive targets for threat actors, driving the need for improved cybersecurity. 

Securing critical cloud ERP processes 

Cybersecurity is one of the defining business and societal challenges of our time, featuring regularly on the World Economic Forum’s top ten lists of greatest risks. African enterprises have taken note: a KPMG report found that cybersecurity strategy among African enterprises is more mature than ever, with 75% of companies having such strategies in place.

Considering that more than half of organisations operating in Africa have fallen victim to cybercrime, having a robust, effective cybersecurity strategy in place is critical.  

Such a strategy should focus on three important aspects, namely: 

  • Defending against cyberattacks, which can take the form of ransomware, social engineering attacks such as phishing, and distributed denial of service (DDoS). Attack methods constantly evolve, making traditional forms of defence inadequate for most organisations’ needs. 
  • Compliance with regulations, which can become a cost multiplier when it comes to cybersecurity. Africa is home to 54 distinct regulatory regimes each with varying requirements that companies must keep track of. A robust strategy supported by the latest technologies can greatly simplify this aspect and support companies to operate on the right side of regulatory compliance. 
  • Mitigating the skills shortage, which is a global issue but one amplified by Africa’s relatively lower skills base. Cybersecurity is a growing field that requires specialised knowledge and training, and many organisations here and abroad simply cannot keep up with recruiting and retaining scarce security skills.  

A cloud ERP system alleviates pressure on all of the above three fronts. By providing a consistent and harmonised architecture from the operating system all the down to the network, cloud ERP greatly simplifies and enhances enterprise security efforts.  

And with one point of contact, companies can resolve security and resilience issues quickly and with the support of larger cloud vendors’ extensive talent pools and deep skills bases. 

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