SAP uses Scalpel to carve shape of post-Brexit UK ambitions
Multinational software peddler decides suburban Feltenham just doesn't have the je ne sais quoi it needs
SAP is going to new heights to raise its profile in UK business. A year and a half after Britain’s formal departure from the EU, Europe’s biggest software biz is unleashing €250m of investment in the next five years, including a new London office in The Scalpel, a 38-storey skyscraper at 52 Lime Street in the City of London.
While dishing out for office space in the heart of London’s financial district may be against the prevailing wind of the pandemic-hit economy, the German software giant said the flashy new skyscraper was necessary to “provide state-of-the-art facilities for customers and partners to identify and pursue co-innovation opportunities with SAP.”
Presumably, the current HQ, a quiet outpost in suburban Feltham, overlooking a roundabout on the A30, wasn’t going to impress prospects in quite the same way.
But that’s not where the generosity of SAP in-bound UK investment ends. A new facility in Bruntwood, Alderley Park, near Manchester, is set for completion later this year and will “enable SAP to work and engage more closely with companies across the country”, it said.
As part of the investment, the application software vendor also said it would launch a UK Data Cloud, hosted in UK data centres.
SAP explained that it would help organisations store data locally, presumably avoiding that pesky new border to the EU. The UK has been afforded “adequacy” status by the EU in terms of data sharing under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). But that decision will be subject to review as UK law changes, so perhaps SAP is hedging its bets.
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The local cloud service will initially support ERP system SAP S/4HANA, SAP SuccessFactors HR systems and its SAP Business Technology Platform, although it could be broadened in the future.
News of the inward investment initially appeared in pro-Brexit newspaper, The Telegraph, breaching SAP's self-imposed embargo.
It was warmly endorsed by digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman, who coincidently is a former Telegraph journalist.
"Tech is at the heart of our plans to power Britain's recovery full speed out of the pandemic," he said in a pre-canned statement. "We are backing the sector with world-class infrastructure and skills training to make sure the UK is the best place to start and grow a digital business."
It is perhaps worth noting that the true value of the investment is €250m rather than £250m, as early reports had it. Although some would rather that it was in pounds, shillings and pence, the true figure is around £214.7m, which we guess could go up or down depending on the exchanging rate and how successful, or otherwise, the UK’s departure from the world’s biggest trading bloc is. ®