There have been a lot of changes in the ways that companies collect customer data, as well as how customers perceive the value of sharing their data. When you layer that on top of recent regulations that control how companies can collect and use data, the need to manage those processes becomes critical for a company to stay competitive.

That's precisely why SAP acquired Gigya and integrated it within its SAP C/4HANA suite.

ASUG News interviewed the SAP C/4HANA cloud leaders to learn more about each platform and how they work together to help build a better customer experience. We started with SAP Commerce Cloud and discussed how it provides customers with a complete digital brand experience. We’ve also covered SAP Sales Cloud and SAP Marketing Cloud to better understand how the platforms give the sales and marketing teams the tools they need to know their customers and what to offer them.

Next, we sat down with Ben Jackson, general manager of SAP Customer Data Cloud to understand how managing your customer data well is critical to your business strategy.

Ben Jackson, General Manager of SAP Customer Data Cloud

Sharon: Can you walk us through how a customer would use SAP Customer Data Cloud?

Ben: The SAP Customer Data Cloud is split into three different products—SAP Identity, SAP Consent, and SAP Profile—serving slightly different use cases.

SAP Identity is like the front door to the application. It collects first-party, permission-based data and streamlines the onboarding experience. It’s a classic customer and identity management solution that’s meant to make the user experience seamless, but also to consolidate data through multiple digital touch points to collect richer profiles.

SAP Consent covers enterprise consent and preference management. While companies are collecting this first-party data, it’s now become very important to collect the right consent information and put the consumer in control of their own data. Companies can do this by giving the consumer the opportunity to view their data, download it, delete it, or freeze their account.

SAP Profile is about storing data. So, once you’ve collected that data, it’s about storing it with the associated consent information and creating rich profiles on that customer to cross-sell or upsell. Just as importantly, SAP Profile allows organizations to orchestrate and integrate that data into other downstream systems. For example, you can integrate it within CRM solutions or marketing automation solutions.

It’s important not only to be able to share data across the infrastructure, but also share the level of consent that the consumer has agreed to. Part of SAP Profile solution is that you can orchestrate both the data and the consent. For example, if a customer requests that data be deleted, it’s important not only to delete that data from the SAP Customer Data Cloud application, but also from all other systems within the organization.

Sharon: How can data drive better customer experiences?

Ben: I would ask, “how can you provide better customer experiences without data?” My belief is that collecting the right data with the right permissions is instrumental to providing better customer experiences. And customers demand it. But at the same time, they don’t want to make that data available to companies at all costs. So, it’s important that companies be transparent about the value exchange that they’re offering to customers when they ask for that data. It’s also important to provide tools that make it very easy for a customer to understand how their data is being used, what terms of service they’re signing up for, and then what they can expect in return for offering that data.

A second point is that I believe companies are investing a lot of money in redefining the customer experience. It’s about making experiences more personalized, and you can’t do that without feeding the best data into your systems. SAP Customer Data Cloud really allows us to orchestrate that data into those systems to streamline that process.

Sharon: How can SAP Customer Data Cloud help alleviate some of the pain points around maintaining and sharing accurate and complete data?

Ben: The most valuable data to an organization is the data that is offered by the consumer. It’s also the most accurate. It is much more valuable than anonymous or clickstream data. Or even probabilistic data, where companies are guessing who I am as an individual, or what demographic I fit into, or what products I’m interested in. Companies need to get a bit closer to their customers and create more transparent relationships with them.

If you’re getting that type of data into your e-commerce systems or into your marketing automation systems, you are going to be able to provide a better customer experience. And it goes without saying that data will become much more valuable, and the relationships that companies are building with their customers will become much closer.

Sharon: What did you learn as you built Gigya’s sales operations that you were able to bring to the SAP Customer Data Cloud?

Ben: We’ve helped define the customer identity and management access market, but we’ve seen a lot of changes. Many of our customers over the last six years have gone through this phase of using internally built systems, which were designed perhaps for an era where they had fewer channels, fewer brands, and fewer digital properties. And those types of do-it-yourself solutions do not fit today’s environment. We’ve also learned a lot about new legislation, and we’ve been working with our clients to define how we need to change and adapt the product to prepare for those regulations.

Beyond the technology, we’ve got a team of professional services that have led hundreds of implementations and learned a lot in terms of building out thousands of integrations over that period as they’ve migrated hundreds of millions of identity records into the Gigya platform.

When we engage with companies, before we even start to integrate or talk about products, we need to understand what their objectives are in terms of the customer experiences that they want to provide. And then we can work back to figure out what technology and what data they need to collect from their customers to provide those types of experiences.

Sharon: How much of Gigya has SAP Customer Data Cloud integrated into today’s offering? What’s the road map for bringing these together?

Ben: We’ve rebranded, but SAP Customer Data Cloud is effectively the Gigya offerings. Even before the acquisition, we already had prebuilt integrations with several of the SAP C/4HANA areas, such as SAP Marketing Cloud and SAP Commerce Cloud. We’re currently enhancing those integrations and we’ve added SAP Sales Cloud and SAP Service Cloud.

The only way we can help a company provide a better customer experience is by offering an integrated platform. And part of that is integrating the customer records between each one of those functions. SAP Customer Data Cloud can absolutely play a key role in doing that.

We can also help in terms of integrating the front office with the back office. If we’re going to provide that customer experience, we need to be able to integrate operational data from the back office with front-office data to streamline processes.

Sharon: How does Customer Data Cloud work with other SAP offerings to help an organization become an intelligent enterprise?

Ben: Customers want to see integration with Master Data Management (MDM) services they get from SAP. We’re capturing a lot of data using SAP Customer Data Cloud from the beginning of a user’s journey. It could be as simple as just collecting an email address for a newsletter subscription, but then starting to build a profile of that customer throughout that user journey until they become a customer, and then making sure we integrate that profile data with the MDM solution. You can drive more intelligence into that customer journey, and that really starts to fulfill supporting your intelligent enterprise strategy.

We’re also looking to see how we can integrate the early user journey data and authentication data that SAP Customer Data Cloud is collecting with tools such as SAP Concur and SAP SuccessFactors, as well as other applications.

Part of the SAP Customer Data Cloud application is about being able to integrate with any type of solution—SAP or not. And understanding that we need to create an open ecosystem to allow other applications, or other areas of the business, to have access to that very valuable data that we’re collecting.

And so, part of that is an SAP-wide initiative, as part of the Open Data Initiative, where SAP has partnered with Adobe and Microsoft to create a common data structure to be able to share data within SAP, but also outside of SAP as well.

Learn more about what to expect from SAP C/4HANA and how SAP C/4HANA can connect your customer journey. You can also spend a day learning how to use SAP C/4HANA at an ASUG Pre-Conference Seminar prior to SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference.