|The SAP Mentor Spotlight Interview Series highlights key strategic topics, such as emerging technologies, learning, and other topics, and provides insights from Mentors and SAP leaders on turning ideas into innovative approaches that impact people, process, and technology.|
Many professional and “citizen” (aka business) developers are asking for low-code/no-code toolsets vs. dealing with large custom code debt.
Low-code/no-code platforms help reduce development cycles, ensure less wasted efforts from inefficient and inconsistent development practices, enable building applications and extensions, as well as provide greater maintainability. Developers spend less time restructuring code, and as a result, have more time to address new features and capabilities.
While large custom code debt by itself is not necessarily an issue, substantial problems will come up as the size and complexity of the code becomes cumbersome.
For Leonardo de Araujo, SAP Mentor and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Beyond Technologies, he sees first-hand the importance of reducing technical debt, and as a priority, focuses on the business value and outcomes.
Given these unprecedented times impacting supply chains and every part of the global economy, it was timely to catch-up with Leonardo and learn more about his view of helping organizations reduce (or eliminate) large custom code debt, his professional journey, and how he maintains a work-life balance as an avid biker.
Julia Russo (JR): From your time at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul ‘til now, what inspired you to take a career journey to help digitally transform businesses?
Leonardo de Araujo (LA): For my university studies, I decided to go with Business Management. That led me to become a Logistics Analyst which in turn gave me the opportunity to work on my first SAP project as a business/functional analyst. While working as a functional SD (Sales & Distribution) / Transportation consultant, with time I got more and more technical. At one point I started taking the role of developer and technical architect. It is a career path that is very unconventional. This approach gave me the opportunity of connecting business requirements and technology, from end-to-end.
JR: Also, you’re an avid biker who rides the equivalent of “twice the distance from Toronto to Vancouver” every year. How does this exercise help you with work-life balance? Have you participated in any charity cycling events lately?
LA: Exercise is key. We have hectic lifestyles. Our workload is huge, and responsibilities are high. We need to find a way to balance things, freshen up. Physical activity is great. It focuses on areas of your body that need action, allows for a more meaningful reflection on important things, all while providing a good shot of endorphins. Life is all about balance, and physical exercise helps to provide that.
JR: As an SAP Mentor and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Beyond Technologies, you deliver regular presentations at SAP events such as SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP TechEd, SAP Inside Track, Mastering SAP Online, and ASUG (Americas’ SAP Users’ Group) conferences. What topics do you enjoy sharing with participants?
LA: It has been a while since I have shared deep technical knowledge and experience. It is due to the change of my role, but also since a lot of good content already exists. But what I like to share the most is personal experiences around projects and products. Sure, the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) is great, but can I add a personal story about it? It’s worth considering, “What are the use-cases we see which provide the most traction?” Sharing practical, innovative insights provides the most value to others, and ultimately what I like to present about the most.
JR: How and why did you become an SAP Mentor? What has the experience been like for you?
LA: Becoming an SAP mentor was an important milestone for me. I am super proud of it. Honored to be a part of a group composed of so much talent. I had the chance of contributing to several areas including the Certification 5 (which pushed SAP to improve its certification process) and the SAP Report Wizard (a free tool to generate Advanced Business Application Programming (ABAP) reports, downloaded more than 10,000 times). More recently I’ve been focusing on working with SAP to provide feedback on several products, including SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP S/4HANA on-premise, SAP Cloud Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and SAP Cloud Software Development Kit (SDK).
JR: The IDC Snapshot, “How Midsize Companies Can Engage Customers More Meaningfully” highlights the shift to a “hyper-personalized” customer experience along with opening up new customer channels. Given the many innovative initiatives that you and your team are connected to, what trends are you seeing with private, secure customer data that can help enable revenues and growth?
LA: Well, let me start first by highlighting that midsize companies tend to be in a privileged situation. At least in our experience, they either are embarking now on the SAP Journey or have done so recently but have done so largely by adopting best practices and out of the box solutions.
This greenfield (or net-new) approach is a contrast to long-time customers that have invested in customizing their solution for many years. Times have changed and agility is key. Customers with heavy customizations will inevitably suffer from slower adoption pace (this is true for SAP and non-SAP customers). Our customers are focusing on tighter IT footprints, and this allows for more advanced deployments like the Customer Experience (CX) portfolio. Most of our customers are running SAP S/4HANA by the way.
JR: From your experience, given the many challenges with Supply Chains impacted from the pandemic including inconsistent supplies, demand shocks, and volatility, how can interconnected systems such as intelligent ERP (SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP Business One, SAP Business ByDesign) help navigate the process and increase readiness? How can poor data visibility impact decisions and result in lost opportunities?
LA: As SAP is introducing more and more functionality, adoption speed is key. Business networks (e.g., Ariba Network) is one solution that can help companies deal with supply chain challenges. The more up-to-date or the more standard best practices, the easier it will be to adopt and stay agile to support customers and market conditions.
JR: When you encounter students and recent graduates who dream of becoming a Chief Technology Officer and innovator, what tips do you share with them to help them build a foundation of skills, education, and work experiences to encourage them to take one-step-at-a-time?
LA: Chief Technology Officer is an ambitious end-state vision. I believe there are important steps to get there. First, you need depth of knowledge. Focus on something you like and invest yourself. There is so much content out there; it is incumbent on the individual to learn and grow.
What makes the most difference is that a CTO needs to keep the business insight and never lose focus on value and return on investment. Something extraordinarily cool is useless if it delivers no value. That differentiates pure geeks from IT professionals.