SAP C/4HANA has been taking center stage in the SAP world lately. As you may have heard, this is SAP’s attempt to gain ground in the customer relationship management (CRM) market by filling the functionality gap within the end-to-end, digitally empowered intelligent enterprise. There hasn’t been a lot of detail released yet on the specifics of SAP C/4HANA. So we’ve been working to demystify it, as we did in our article on what to expect from SAP C/4HANA. Here are a few more things about SAP’s latest push into the CRM space that you should know.

Connecting the Enterprise Front End to the Back End

Though historically SAP has taken a strong role in running the back-end processes or “central nervous system” of a business, SAP believes it offers high-quality front-end applications too. Most of these front-end needs relate to how a customer interacts with the business on the technology side, so customer experience has become a recent focal point. Where SAP S/4HANA is meant to solidify how data and analytics can move through a company’s various workloads, SAP C/4HANA offers a pathway from the first touchpoint of this data as it comes in from customers.

Same Technologies, Different Cloud Names

Businesses that have already invested in SAP Hybris or have carried over their accounts from previous connections with CallidusCloud and Gigya may have noticed that these brands are no longer front and center. This is because SAP has retired the Hybris and Callidus names and has shifted Gigya to a supporting role, rather than as a star of its process. In their places, SAP has rebranded its series of enterprise clouds to align with the processes or business functions they serve, and they’ve all been rolled under the umbrella SAP is now calling SAP Customer Experience.

Instead of Hybris, SAP now offers both the SAP Marketing Cloud and the SAP Commerce Cloud. Rather than CallidusCloud, SAP is calling this technology the SAP Sales Cloud. SAP’s Cloud for Service takes a slight detour and is now the SAP Service Cloud, while Gigya’s technology appears in the SAP Customer Data Cloud from Gigya.

What does this mean for customers? Not much, except that SAP has hopefully reduced some confusion about what each of these products does.

What Doesn’t Fit Into SAP C/4HANA?

SAP C/4HANA is built on a lead-to-cash approach, so it integrates many of the workloads SAP historically has served, including e-commerce and sales. Interestingly, SAP Ariba may be supported indirectly, but it’s not considered part of SAP’s CRM offering. While the supply chain is critical to execute orders on time and make deliveries to satisfy customers, the customer does not directly interact with it.

The cloud products SAP SuccessFactors and SAP Fieldglass deal more with the workforce and internal controls rather than customer-facing processes, so they have no direct role to play in SAP C/4HANA. Finally, the core ERP falls under the scope of SAP S/4HANA, rather than the new SAP C/4HANA offering.

Opening Doors for SAP C/4HANA Customers

The added focus SAP is now placing on its front-end experience is opening a lot of new doors for SAP—and these are doors customers can take advantage of. Moritz Zimmerman, SAP’s CTO of Customer Experience, explains some of these opportunities to use SAP C/4HANA in combination with emerging technologies.

“The front-office space that we’re in is highly dynamic,” says Zimmerman. “One area where we’re investing a lot on the marketing side is account-based marketing. On the commerce side, a lot can happen by leveraging machine learning and conversational interfaces—optimizing your merchandising through machine learning, for example. On the service side, you’ll see opportunities around completely new business models, like outsourcing for service technicians. And on the customer service side, you’ll be able to automate a bot or routine tasks like those done by call center workers. There is cross-cutting functionality in the whole area of order management. A big area that we’re working on right now is to achieve the value proposition of connecting the front end to the back end and connecting the demand chain to the supply chain.”

From Best-of-Breed to a Data-Driven Demand Chain

SAP hopes its customers can see how linking these operations together can help their enterprises run more effectively than they would by trying to build integrations among best-in-breed solutions. As we mentioned in our article on what to expect from SAP C/4HANA, the master data that runs through each of the clouds in SAP C/4HANA is a key advantage for customers. This access to data across your organization will allow you to seamlessly view an individual customer’s path through the demand chain until an order is made.

As Alex Atzberger, SAP’s President of Customer Experience, detailed in his statement on the release of SAP C/4HANA, “It modernizes the sales-only focus of legacy CRM solution by continually engaging customers, instead of ending communication once an order is placed.”

Will businesses abandon the recent trend of moving toward the best-in-breed for each individual workload? Or will they move to streamline business processes by connecting the front end to the back end? SAP is banking on the fact that SAP C/4HANA will be powerful enough to change the mentality of its customers and prospects. Time will tell if this is a bet that SAP will cash in on.

If you’re looking for innovative ways to delight your customers, don’t miss our Customer Experience Innovation Forum, our newest event for retailers, consumer products companies, and wholesalers.