SAP CEO Bill McDermott announced at 2018 SAPPHIRE NOW the release of SAP C/4HANA, a suite of solutions set to disrupt and modernize the customer relationship management (CRM) market.

In his keynote speech, McDermott said, “SAP was the last to accept the status quo of CRM and is now the first to change it.” The suite of solutions, which includes five platforms that can work individually or together, was built with the customer in mind. "We recognize that every part of a business needs to be focused on a single view of the consumer,” McDermott added. “When you connect all SAP applications together in an intelligent cloud suite, the demand chain directly fuels the behaviors of the supply chain.”

What’s in an Intelligent Cloud Suite?

The SAP C/4HANA portfolio includes SAP Marketing Cloud, SAP Commerce Cloud, SAP Service Cloud, SAP Customer Data Cloud, and SAP Sales Cloud. SAP acquired Hybris, a Germany-based omnichannel commerce vendor, in 2013. And then in 2017, it acquired Gigya, an identity management technology firm, followed by CallidusCloud, a sales performance management tools vendor in 2018, and finally Coresystems, a field service management platform vendor in 2018.

The entire suite runs on SAP HANA, an in-memory database, and can be paired with SAP S/4HANA, SAP’s core ERP suite. Together, the two are meant to connect front-office activities with back-office activities, providing an intelligent end-to-end experience for businesses and for their customers.

Channeling the Customer Experience

We covered what you should expect from SAP C/4HANA in June of this year. That’s when Moritz Zimmerman, CTO of SAP Customer Experience told us, “There is a transition going on in many industries from products to services. You’re not selling products at a one-off price anymore, but actually creating a business model where you have a recurring revenue stream. Maybe it’s usage-based or subscription-based. That automatically puts the customer relationship at the center of it.”

Putting an emphasis on customer experience is key for businesses to remain competitive, and to connect with their customers in a more meaningful way.

That’s exactly what the San Jose Sharks did when the team management reimagined how to provide a better overall experience for fans, while also increasing revenue by optimizing concession stand sells. Jonathan Becher, the team’s president, talks about his plans to use a chatbot to not only interact with customers before and during a game, but also to use predictive analytics for future interactions, leading to increased sales.

How to Connect to the Customer's World

Since the SAP C/4HANA announcement earlier this year, SAP has put an emphasis on its customer experience messaging. It’s all about letting your customers decide what you, as an organization, do with their data and how you can engage better to deliver personalized and convenient experiences. It’s about building customer relationships based on trust. As described in “Your Path to SAP C/4HANA,” customers no longer view relationships in terms of business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) standards. Instead, we are living in what SAP calls a "Me2B" world where customers drive all of those relationships, whether they are buying for their company or for themselves.

To help understand needs and preferences, businesses must have a single view of the customer. “In general,” said Patrick Salyer, CEO of Gigya, “businesses are really just trying to deliver the right message to right person at the right time. All those initiatives lead to one thing, which is a direct relationship with the customer. That's what we do at SAP Customer Data Cloud. We help build these direct relationships in a trusted way.”

From Trust to Loyalty

Trust in any relationship is the foundation, but how you build on that is what matters. Connecting your processes to the customer journey and then delivering on your brand promises to your customers is the next step.

Maintaining trust starts with customer service, which seems to be a lost art form these days. “Customer service is a fundamental part of the customer experience,” said Georg Glantschnig, GM at SAP Customer Experience, Service Cloud. “Customer service becomes like a product. It defines a brand and its customers’ loyalty. With SAP Service Cloud, our overall vision is to help businesses provide their customers an effortless experience.”

Relationship-Building Never Ends

Once a business establishes trust and loyalty, maintaining and managing that relationship should be just as effortless for the sales and marketing teams within an organization. Giles House, GM of SAP Sales Cloud, believes that with SAP C/4HANA, you’ve basically got a full suite to engage with your customers, but keeping track of those interactions, “is absolutely critical for success. SAP Sales Cloud brings order by giving salespeople the tools they need to track and manage across all channels.”

As for the marketing teams, the SAP Marketing Cloud provides a platform for four main actions: marketing planning and strategy management; cross-channel marketing orchestration, measurement and optimization, and customer data management. “Also, the SAP Marketing Cloud,” added Nicholas Cumins, general manager of SAP Marketing Cloud, “is the only platform right now that is for both B2B and B2C marketing solutions.”

Meeting Customers Wherever They Are

SAP's "Me2B" vision comes with its own rules, and that means customers want options. The SAP Commerce Cloud solution gives a business the ability to not just sell things digitally, but to also provide a complete digital brand experience for their businesses. “The thing that's important here,” said Chris Hauca, head of strategy and GTM at SAP Enterprise Commerce, “is being able to extend and tailor to your business, but then also be able to create the linkages to other products that help build the digital experience or fulfill the commitments and promises you're making to your customers.”

What’s Next on the Path to Customer Satisfaction?

SAP recently added to its arsenal of customer experience offerings with its acquisition of Qualtrics. McDermott noted that SAP has expertise in capturing operational data. Qualtrics, a survey company, will bring expertise in capturing experience data.

Where operational data can tell a company what’s going on, experience data can tell it why it's happening. Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith noted, “It allows you to get human sentiment in the moment. The ability to combine these and have one single view will transform the way we even think about CRM as we know it.”

Although SAP has given no official word on whether Qualtrics will be part of the SAP C/4HANA suite, it seems likely that it will play a role in the overall goal of providing businesses one platform to design and manage their customer experience journeys.

Take a Trip to the Customer Clouds

We had a chance to sit down with all the SAP C/4HANA Cloud leaders and ask them about each platform. Keep an eye out for those articles in the next few months, as we dig deeper into what each cloud platform does and how it can fit into your customer experience strategy.