With the launch of C/4HANA, I have received a lot of questions of customers on what this new customer engagement and commerce suite of SAP is all about. As I have worked for years as an SAP CRM and Cloud for Customer consultant, I was excited to go the SAP Customer Experience Live Event in Barcelona and to learn more about the unique features of C/4HANA. I was wondering, like many others, if it was just a rebranding and repackaging of the solutions we know currently or if it is really a new suite of applications.
Based on the insights I gained at the event a few weeks ago, I believe the suite is centered around the following themes:
- Customers should be able to implement solutions fast
- Only by connecting the entire journey, you will obtain a real 360° view of your customer
- Build trusted relationships with intelligent front-office tools
1. Move fast
SAP recently acquired a couple of "best-of-breed" cloud solutions. Examples are CallidusCloud in the areas of sales performance, Gigya in the areas of customer management and Coresystems in the areas of field service. No doubt about it, SAP is clearly speeding up its move towards cloud applications.
This results in five collaborating clouds:
- Marketing Cloud
- Commerce Cloud
- Customer Data Cloud
- Sales Cloud
- Service Cloud
All five can be implemented separately in short implementation cycles. The suite has one data model and it has one extension framework with a microservices based ecosystem called SAP Cloud Platform. Although I saw some great features, there are still some challenges along the way before everything will work together. An example is the integration of Coresystems' field service solution in Service Cloud. Currently, the solution integrates with SAP ERP CS, but in the near future, it will also integrate with SAP Service Cloud.
2. Connecting the entire journey
Back in the days of SAP CRM, I already told the customers I worked with the following message: "Only by connecting your front-end solution with your enterprise backend you will be able to achieve a true 360° view of your customers". Today, this message is more relevant than ever before. In addition, you are able to provide a better customer experience by delivering full transparency.
With cloud initiatives popping up everywhere, you need to make sure they all work together, otherwise, you might get a storm. This is where SAP Cloud Platform Integration will play an important role.
To quote the president of SAP Customer Experience, Alex Atzberger: "Ultimately it's no longer about efficiency but driving effectiveness and that comes from intelligence and integration."
3. Build trusted relationships
Building trusted relationships means getting to know your customers better. By knowing them better, you can anticipate their interests. That is exactly what SAP is bringing in C/4HANA. By injecting Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies into the suite, you will be able to leverage the data you have collected from your customers. It will allow you to automate processes and predict customer behavior in a much more precise way. Personally, this is what interested me the most.
Very impressive, right? Some scenarios related to Marketing, Service and Commerce are:
- The ability to predict the outcome of campaigns for marketers
- Automatically route service tickets to the certain department based on the content of an email
- A chatbot that communicates in natural languages and can perform actions for you like suggesting or ordering articles on a commerce website
Sitting at the airport after the event, I was questioning myself: What makes C/4HANA unique? Why would customers want to buy it? Fact is that there are a lot of great CRM tools out there in the market. They all have very strong functionalities when it comes to core CRM. SAP C/4HANA goes beyond CRM. Integration with the back-office is and will always be a strong point of SAP's suite. Not only will it allow you to record all your interactions with your customers, it will also guide you with the next best step to build strong customer relationships. Injecting Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies into the suite makes it next level. To conclude, I believe SAP is on the right track with C/4HANA.
By Stephane Colin, Partner at Amista