The customer experience is not a new concept. What has changed is the way in which businesses approach, manage, and nurture the complete customer experience—from capturing the point of interest, through the sale, and all the way through the life of the product or service and beyond.

ASUG News sat down with the authors of “SAP C/4HANA: An Introduction,” a book from SAP Press, to discuss what makes the newest customer experience suite unique and what it brings to SAP customers. Sven Feurer, senior director of product management for SAP C/4HANA Suite, Sanjjeev Singh, managing partner at ASAR America, and Drew Messinger-Michaels, SAP customer experience expert services, helped us get to know SAP C/4HANA. They explained how, when it’s connected with intelligent technologies, it can provide end-to-end processes to deliver the best customer experience.

Sharon: Since its introduction nearly two years ago, how has SAP C/4HANA evolved?

Sven: Since the announcement of SAP C/4HANA in June 2018, we’ve seen enormous interest in SAP Customer Experience solutions. More than 10,000 customers are using either the entire SAP C/4HANA suite, or parts of it today. About a third of new customers are implementing a multicloud solution. They are realizing that, to truly deliver on customer experience, they need to look beyond a single-pillar application.

Let me give you some updates on the cloud solutions, starting with the SAP Customer Data Cloud. We have more than 1.7 billion identities and more than 2 billion consent records stored in this central component. This is quite significant as companies leverage SAP Customer Data Cloud as a starting point to build trusted relationships with their customers based on transparency and personal data control.

With SAP Marketing Cloud, our customers can seamlessly connect to this customer data, build and further enrich their customer profiles to ultimately run omnichannel marketing campaigns (more than 5 billing personalized interactions per year).

As more than 7 million salespeople use SAP Sales Cloud, we’re processing more than 1 trillion commission calculations through our systems. We were recently named a leader in three Gartner Magic Quadrant categories, including sales force automation; configure, price, and quote; and sales performance management.

If you look at customer service, we have more than 6.1 million AI-assisted service tickets being processed in the SAP Service Cloud, where an embedded machine learning algorithm can classify and categorize tickets and provide the right responses to customers quickly.

And last, but not least, when it comes to the SAP Commerce Cloud, Gartner has recognized SAP as a leader in the Magic Quadrant in Digital Commerce for the fifth consecutive year. In the second quarter of 2019, we reported 32 million orders running through our commerce systems.

Sharon: Can you discuss how the five cloud solutions work collectively to help an organization manage the complete customer experience?

Sanjjeev: Under the SAP C/4HANA suite, there are five cloud solutions, which include SAP Customer Data Cloud, SAP Sales Cloud, SAP Service Cloud, SAP Commerce Cloud, and SAP Marketing Cloud.

The foundational piece is the SAP Customer Data Cloud. In today’s experience economy, an organization needs to win the trust of their customers first before anything else can happen. The SAP Customer Data Cloud allows organizations to manage all customer records, including where customers have consented to provide information about themselves. This is key in all other interactions an organization has with its customers. That’s where the journey should start whenever we are talking about customer experience.

The next part of that journey is understanding all the different touch points your business will have with your customers, whether that’s through sales, service, or marketing. SAP Sales Cloud helps inside and field sales organizations effectively engage with customers and proactively manage the demand around their day-to-day tasks such as sales force automation; intelligent sales execution; sales performance management; configure, price, and quote, etc. SAP Service Cloud offers a complete solution for customer service and field service organizations. You can implement end-to-end service processes right from capturing service requests to scheduling resources, to service performance and so on. SAP Marketing Cloud provides an organization the tools it needs to know its customers and when and how to market to them from creating marketing plans to executing end-to-end marketing campaigns across all the channels. It also measures the effectiveness of those campaigns.

The last piece—SAP Commerce Cloud—allows an organization to provide a complete digital brand experience and online storefronts for both B2B as well as B2C organizations.

The key here is that each of these five cloud offerings are building blocks toward enabling an intelligent enterprise.

Sharon: How does SAP C/4HANA fit within the intelligent enterprise? What business value does it bring?

Drew: When we talk about the intelligent enterprise, fundamentally we're talking about a vision for the future, even though we're talking about technology that exists today. This is true not just within SAP C/4HANA, but also with technologies such as SAP Leonardo, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The intelligent enterprise is not the current state for most businesses, as they are lagging in terms of customer experience. SAP C/4HANA is the core of what can get people from a current state to the state they want to be in. It addresses the five main pillars of how businesses work right now and how they can really disrupt different industries.

The intelligent enterprise means being reactive to changes in the market, but also being proactive and realizing the vision over a longer period. An organization needs to able to plug in more traditional solutions like commerce, ERPs, sales, and service into intelligent technologies such as machine learning and AI.

SAP C/4HANA is what connects the past to the present to the future.

Sharon: Can you discuss the attributes that are consistent across the entire SAP C/4HANA suite? What are they and what value do they bring?

Sven: SAP has invested significantly in the SAP C/4HANA suite attributes over the last year and a half. The suite has several attributes that are consistent across all the individual solutions, but the most important ones can be divided into the following categories: harmonized user interface, end-to-end processes, embedded intelligence, reusable business services and master data services, and extensibility.

In business today, very often customer experience is broken into silos. Organizations may have functional tools for specific tasks such as sales or service, but struggle with bringing everything together to have a consistent, 360-degree view of everything. SAP C/4HANA offers a harmonized design language across all the customer experience solutions using SAP Fiori. It’s a unified experience with a single login.

End-to-end process integration is SAP’s key differentiator in the market. Historically, SAP has more than 40 years of expertise in 25 industries and deep knowledge in core processes, be it logistics, finance, or manufacturing. We’ve taken that and provided an integrated lead-to-cash process based on SAP C/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA. We basically started applying this process to discrete manufacturing but will extend it to other industries and further process variants as well.

Third, with embedded intelligence we continuously deliver data-driven customer experience scenarios, build recommendations, use prescriptive analytics, and deliver personalized content and experiences at scale. Today, SAP C/4HANA consists of more than 40 key scenarios across marketing, commerce, sales, and service using SAP Leonardo Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, conversational AI, advanced predictive analytics, and IoT technologies.

The fourth one—reusable business services and master data services—is about having a harmonized view on master data and transactional information. For a true end-to-end process, data must be shared among all different systems rather than being replicated. As a result, you’ll get one source of truth and always-synchronized data across the SAP C/4HANA front office and the SAP S/4HANA digital core.

And finally, it’s about having a consistent extensibility approach for the entire suite. We provide this through the SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory. It allows customers and partners to develop event-driven extensions for SAP applications using microservices and serverless functions in the cloud.

Sharon: What are the integration options for each of the five solutions within SAP C/4HANA with other products within the SAP product portfolio? What about with third-party applications?

Sanjjeev: What’s key is to first understand that all the individual solutions within SAP C/4HANA are designed so that they can be used on their own without any other SAP solution. So, for example, if you need to stand up a commerce store, you don’t need to have an SAP ERP. You can simply use SAP Commerce Cloud and connect it to any (SAP or non-SAP) back-end system. The same is true for any of the five cloud solutions.

You can integrate with the APIs available in SAP C/4HANA. SAP has done a wonderful job of providing SAP Cloud Platform Integration, which is middleware you can use to not only integrate all these different cloud solutions, but also back-end solutions such as SAP S/4HANA or any other application.

Sharon: What are the intelligent technologies driving digital transformations across SAP solutions and how do they work within SAP C/4HANA?

Sven: Generally, there’s a mix of intelligent technologies—like AI/machine learning, conversational AI, predictive analytics, IoT, or blockchain—which are embedded in SAP C/4HANA through SAP’s cloud platform.

For example, SAP Analytics Cloud helps you understand and analyze data, as well as provide predictions based on that data. For instance, baked into SAP Marketing Cloud, SAP Analytics Cloud empowers marketers to make intelligent decisions using data visualization tools, from audience discovery to campaign performance analysis.

Another intelligent technology is machine learning with SAP Leonardo. Embedded in SAP C/4HANA it helps track the customer pulse and provide insights in customer behavior; create recommendations for products, offers and prices; or automate ticket processing in customer service.

The third intelligent technology is SAP Conversational AI, which allows you to interact with a system using natural language. We’ve integrated this technology with SAP Commerce and Service Cloud and are now looking into voice-enabled scenarios for SAP Sales Cloud.

Another promising technology we are planning to apply in the future is SAP’s Intelligent Robotic Process Automation. It helps automate repetitive processes by watching a business user performing a certain task and automating those steps on behalf of the user in either an attended or unattended way.

Finally, IoT. SAP recognizes this as an intelligent technology that allows an organization to connect to the physical world. Take commerce, for example, with automatic predictive order replenishment based on IoT events.

All of these can be connected and used throughout the SAP C/4HANA suite to create a better customer experience and improve overall business outcomes.

Sharon: What key points would you highlight in a business case to adopt the SAP C/4HANA suite?

Sanjjeev: It all depends on the business and what it is trying to accomplish. What is your goal? The answer to that question must be the fundamental way of looking at the SAP C/4HANA solution.

Businesses must identify that critical area where they want to make impact in their customer experience journey. Then, from there, build your business case, whether it’s for one cloud solution, multiple cloud solutions, or the entire suite.

Sharon: What are the first steps needed to adopt SAP C/4HANA?

Sanjjeev: The first step is to educate yourself. Understand what SAP C/4HANA and each cloud solution has to offer you. When you start looking at different options, it can really get confusing. So, talk to experts, talk to partners, and fully understand the offerings before you pick what’s right for you.

The second step is to identify which of the five cloud solutions can really lead to the goal you want to accomplish. Where do you see the most impact in your organization around customer experience? That’s where you should start, and then grow from.

Last, but not least, start building the expertise within your organization so that you can remain agile with how the customer experience will continue to change. Your customers are constantly changing, your marketplace is constantly changing, so your solution will also constantly change. Having in-house expertise will help you take full advantage of SAP C/4HANA solution as you deploy new capabilities and new processes to deliver better customer experiences.

Sharon: Can you summarize the book in a couple of sentences?

Drew: When you're looking into the intelligent technologies within SAP C/4HANA, most people are intrigued. Most people see a lot of value. But most people don’t know where to begin, don't know how these terms fit together, or don’t understand where one technology begins and another ends. This book tells you that, but then goes beyond that to put those technologies in the larger context of how your enterprise can become an intelligent enterprise. When you read the book, you’ll understand why it’s called SAP C/4HANA, and why the customer really is at the center.

Learn more about what to expect from SAP C/4HANA and how SAP C/4HANA can connect your customer journey. ASUG Members can register for a road map webinar on SAP C/4HANA.