BTG CEO Martin Metcalf:
“UK IT innovation is among
the best in the world.”
The digital economy – businesses and governments
are being forced to work with new operating models
Basis Technologies Group (BTG), established in 2003 and
based in Richmond, Surrey, creates add-on automation
technology to enhance customers’ SAP systems with the
aim of reducing the total cost burden of SAP implementation and
operation of mission-critical systems, thereby cutting billions of
dollars from the cost of running the world’s supply chains. Herein,
CEO Martin Metcalf discusses the global impact of SAP systems
and BTG’s development of Testimony, the world’s first robotic test
automation product, which has dramatically reduced time taken,
introducing competitive functionality and improving quality and
reliability, testimony itself to the dedication and innovation of BTG.
SAP systems
76 per cent of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP system, the pre-eminent
transaction system used by governments and businesses worldwide. The German
business application software maker has dominated the market for over 20 years and
shows no sign of giving that market leadership away. The ecosystem of global and local
systems integrators, consultancies and technical infrastructure firms that organisations
require to support their SAP investments is estimated to be 20 times bigger in revenues
than SAP itself – that is currently $400 billion1 per year. The vast bulk of this spending
is going to US- and Asian-owned IT businesses – what money is coming to the UK
forms a small portion, with very few UK-owned multinational IT companies.
1 SAP shares only five per cent per annum of its customers’ share of wallet, 95 per cent going to the
Source: SAP AG.
»CEO: Martin Metcalf
»Established in 2003
»Based in Richmond, Surrey
»Offices: London, Dallas, New
York, Berlin, Sydney and
»Services: Development of
automation software
»No. of employees: 60
»Turnover: $13 million
»Gartner award-winning
Basis Technologies
Highlighting best practice
Basis Technologies Group today
employs 60 software engineers and
sales professionals, whose sole purpose
is to create add-on automation
technology to enhance customers’ SAP
systems. Our IT automation product
supports many of the world’s largest
national and global SAP systems.
The digital economy and migration to
the cloud are forcing organisations to
modernise their business processes and
IT systems. The challenge is that SAP
is a “legacy technology”, designed
to always keep global supply chains
stable and secure. This rigid approach
is adequate for keeping the lights on,
but not optimal for facilitating the
rapid changes required to keep pace.
SAP has responded to this challenge
through announcing a cloud-based
platform for its software, but for most
of its customers the business case to
support the cost of that transition is
low on the agenda. Speeding up and
reducing the cost of what they have
already invested in is a far higher
priority. The existing ecosystem is
comfortable with the manual effort
required to continue maintaining these
systems just as they always have done.
To make a tangible difference, a
business like BTG needs to create more
than a better way of doing things.
To truly change the game in such a
high stakes business environment is
nigh impossible for a small player with
limited money and market access.
We do, however, lead the world in
DevOps, a method to quickly and
safely deliver system updates, ensuring
that businesses can support new
digital initiatives. Our in-house team
of software experts can call upon
hundreds of man-years of IT and SAP
experience to deliver real agility to the
businesses we work with.
The greatest opportunity to truly
change the game came about two
and a half years ago, when a large
UK-headquartered global customer of
BTG asked us if we could help them
automate their SAP update processes.
One of the biggest manual efforts
required to update a SAP system
is testing. Because the systems are
in constant use, any rogue change
written into the live production system
could cause it to fail. This means a lot
of care is needed when going through
the update process. It is quite normal
with SAP’s current technology that
regression testing (testing that an
updated system runs without errors)
will add several months to even the
simplest update process.
In response to this, BTG has
produced the world’s first robotic test
automation product. “Testimony”
was created to shorten update test
As cloud migration
forces modernisation of
IT systems, testing and
validation becomes a
major challenge
DevOps is enabling
businesses to respond
rapidly and safely to
digital initiatives
was created to
update test
from months
to days
processes from months to days,
thus dramatically reducing the time
taken to introduce new competitive
functionality, reducing risk and cost,
and improving quality and reliability.
Testimony was the brainchild of the
company’s co-founder and CIO,
Craig Oliver. “The basic concept was
simple in outline but hugely complex
in execution. We wanted to fully
automate the testing process through
extensive use of robotic technology.
Further, we wanted Testimony to be
up and running in days with virtually
no distractions for the business.”
We had IDC undertake a market
research exercise to show that
there was indeed a need for such
technology and that there was
sufficient interest to make the venture
a commercialsuccess.
Testimony was available for general
release in December 2017. After two
and a half years of blood, sweat and
tears the product was finally piloted
for a few willing customers from the
UK, Australia and Canada. “Without
the support of those very trusting
customers we would never have
been able to prepare this product
for market,” says Craig. “It’s only
when you can work with live data in
live production environments that a
product like this can be truly tested.”
The journey was not without its
challenges. You simply cannot build a
new technology of this scale without
willing customers authorising access
to their live production systems. It
is a significant achievement for any
software maker to have built that
amount of trust with its customers.
A culture of innovation
Thinking outside the box, having a
culture of innovation and promoting
automation over manual labour
together with the drive and ambition
to be the best in the world are the
principal qualities behind our success.
However, the qualities needed above
all else are perseverance and self-belief
– that no matter what problems you
are beset with along the way, you can
and must overcome them.
Everyone we showed early versions
of Testimony to observed how
wonderfully innovative the product
was and all our customers stated that
they wanted to be first in line to buy it
upon release.
Customers adopting Testimony today
are asking, “How did we survive before
this?” It is onwards and upwards as
the product continues to develop
and new use cases drive even further
opportunities. Testing is not unique
to supply chain systems; it is relevant
to all IT software and therefore the
impact of this technology on the world
could be very significant indeed.
We estimate that through the adoption
of Testimony the cost of running the
world’s largest supply chain system is
about to be reduced by $10 billion2
2 BTG estimate that a conservative 2.5 per cent
of annual running costs of SAP systems can be
saved with robotic test automation.
It is a
for any
maker to have
built that
amount of
trust with its
76 per cent of the
world’s transaction
revenue touches an SAP