SAP Customer Experience in a Changing Economy
Through the course of the pandemic, customer data and customer experience solutions have been evolving at a steadily accelerating rate in order to cope with a changing supply network and a larger volume of transactions, and competition for clicks is requiring innovative methods for businesses to differentiate themselves.
IgniteSAP has been tracking the development of SAP’s CX solutions and the relationship between CX and other aspects of the intelligent enterprise over this period. Because the rate of change has been increasing over the last few years, this week we are going to provide a summary of recent SAP CX strategy.
From Hybris to SAP Customer Data Platform.
SAP has a customer data offering built around a customer data cloud service and this has been extended with acquisitions over a period of 9 years. Hybris was acquired in 2013, Abakus in 2016, and Gigya in 2017.
This has been combined with Qualtrics’ customer experience analytics which was acquired in 2018, and more recently with the acquisition of Emarsys: a customer engagement platform for complex personalisation of customer interactions.
The acquisition of these solutions has run in tandem with internal research and development (in the form of SAP Customer Identity and Access Management and SAP Enterprise Consent and Preference Management solutions) and the integration of these into a more simplified user experience has resulted in the production of SAP Customer Data Platform.
SAP Customer Data Platform was introduced in October 2020 and at the time SAP CEO Christian Klein was keen to emphasise the importance of CX to SAP:
“We are continuously evolving our CX portfolio while keeping our focus areas at heart – SAP Commerce Cloud, SAP Marketing Cloud, SAP Sales Cloud, SAP Services Cloud, and our brand-new SAP Customer Data Platform… Our investments in those areas, most recently the planned acquisition of Emarsys, demonstrate our commitment to the CX market.”
The purpose of SAP Customer Data Platform is to ensure businesses can create a unique data profile of each customer. The privacy of customer data can then be protected while also providing organisations with insights into customer preferences and behaviour. SAP CDP informs the process of creating personalised and meaningful interactions with the customer in other SAP CX solutions: leading to greater customer satisfaction, which in turn leads to more transactions.
Structuring personalised customer engagement across multiple channels of interaction, like advertising, email, sms text and in-app adverts was initially highly time-consuming as each consumer has different habits and communication preferences.
Emarsys was acquired in October 2020 to compliment SAP’s strategy in CX and CDPs. It automates omnichannel customer engagement by analysing interactions with individuals and divisions based on industry-specific market sectors, and further segmentation. Automation of multiple marketing channels is achieved and regulated using AI. This streamlines the process of creating relevant and targeted advertising: moving customers towards actionable outcomes such as single purchases or subscriptions.
Commenting on the purpose of the acquisition, Christian Klein said:
“to cater to the individual expectations of customers… front-office data must be integrated with back-office capabilities and with individual customer feedback… [Now] SAP will enable brands to connect every part of their business to the customer, including experience data. We will deliver a portfolio for a ‘commerce anywhere’ strategy allowing for hyper-personalised digital commerce experiences across all channels at any time.”
SAP Emarsys (along with SAP Marketing Cloud) provides a front-end connection to customers that interacts with the SAP CDP background, integrating with the rest of the SAP CX solutions.
The Current SAP CX Package
SAP Customer Data Cloud:
SAP Customer Data Cloud has been developed from Gigya. It is used to organise the creation of accounts for users of web forms and app forms. Login authentication is provided and end-users are given full control of their preferences, data and consents. Data privacy is built in. User-facing elements of the customer identity like registration screens and confirmation emails can be customised to ensure the appearance of all communications with the customer are consistent with branding.
SAP Marketing Cloud:
Along with SAP Emarsys, SAP provides users with a comprehensive lead-marketing and account-based marketing solution, called SAP Marketing Cloud. It deals with business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing, but since the introduction of SAP Emarsys, Marketing Cloud is more often used purely for B2B marketing.
SAP Marketing Cloud allows for marketers to build customer profiles, to plan and create target groups, and gives real-time insights into business leads. Marketers can target leads based on customer behaviours. Data managed within the application can be used to offer customers recommendations and loyalty programs to drive continued transactions.
SAP Commerce Cloud:
Commerce Cloud is created for large businesses to enable customised B2B and B2C sales requirements . It aims to provide “A combination of intuitive, self-service capabilities and AI-powered merchandising, guided selling, assisted service, and chatbots further aid the buying process and drive more profit at a lower cost of ownership”.
Commerce Cloud is based on open API’s so it can be viewed with the same functionality on all devices. Product data and catalogues can be consolidated centrally and published through multiple channels, allowing for batch editing and multilingual catalogues.
Discover SAP Commerce Cloud jobs here
SAP Sales Cloud:
Sales Cloud aims to make the sales process more efficient for sales representatives with automation and also create more sales with real-time analytics and AI recommendations. Customers are engaged strategically to maximise all interactions and advance all opportunities.
Embedded sales intelligence directs sellers toward the best opportunities and optimises mobile selling using “route optimisation, personalised activity plans, and dynamic visit surveys”.
SAP Service Cloud:
Service Cloud helps businesses deliver effective customer service: building customers’ brand loyalty. It allows customers to seek assistance through their preferred channels on demand.
Chat-bots allow organisations to answer queries using SAP Conversational AI at any time worldwide, and hand over complex questions to agents. Intelligent technologies by SAP Knowledge Central categorise and route service tickets to the agents with the best resources to resolve them, and provide access to a database of past tickets discussing similar issues. This makes it easier for agents to find product information that is accurate and up to date.
SAP claims this had led to some customers seeing a 40% reduction in time required to complete service requirements.
Changes to the SAP CX Leadership
In April 2020 Sameer Patel joined SAP as Global Head of Cross Portfolio Product and Market Strategy, and then moved to Chief Marketing and Solutions Officer for SAP Customer Experience in June 2021.
Adrian Nash moved from Head of Product for SAP’s Customer Data Cloud to Head of Strategy for SAP CX in August 2020.
Joanna Milliken moved from Head of SAP CX Marketing to be the new CEO of SAP Emarsys in September 2021.
In November 2021 Ritu Bhargava replaced Bob Stutz as SAP’s Chief Product Officer, bringing a background in software development for a cloud-based sales suite platform for multiple browsers and devices.
The regular influx of new executives at SAP CX and its associated areas of SAP demonstrate that SAP is willing to invest in people as well as corporate acquisitions over the past five years in order to make the most of the expanding market for customer experience solutions.
The SAP CX Market
Substantial investment in CX is partly a response to the pandemic but mostly based on the inevitable increase in online commerce. The advantages of a carefully curated customer experience are increased opportunities for transactions, an increased customer lifetime for the business, and valuable customer behaviour data among many others. Adrian Nash has put it rather well:
“If you think about the monumental investment companies make in getting new customers to consider their products and services, it doesn’t make sense to focus on a single engagement [conversion]. A much more sustainable business model is to nurture customer loyalty over time by offering relevant products and services on any channel, at any right time, specifically tailored to the customer. COVID accelerated the move to digital which meant that organisations truly needed to think about those omnichannel engagements and deeply understand, interact and engage at any point of time.”
The customer behaviour data can of course be used to personalise the customer experience, but it has a wider, more indirect benefit in that it provides businesses with a constant stream of data across the business, which allows businesses to react to trends and changes in customer behaviour such as that which accompanied the pandemic. It also provides valuable information for businesses which can be used to inform strategic decisions in other areas like procurement and supply chain management.
SAP-based IT consultants should therefore be considering specialism in the CX stack of solutions as potentially as lucrative or more than more well-known disciplines like supply chain management or SAP EWM.
As dependence on SAP CX becomes normalised and widely adopted among small to medium-sized businesses, the competition for customers in the territory of CX will mean that IT consultants with CX skills will be increasingly valuable to smaller companies seeking to compete with larger ones. Consequently the demand for those with skills in SAP CX implementation will dramatically increase.
If you would like advice about how to pivot toward a career in SAP CX integration or any other SAP specialism contact IgniteSAP and our dedicated team will be happy to help.