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SAP Announces C/4HANA

Closing The Loop in SAP’s Digital World

By Peter Casanova and Graham Jordan

Digital transformation is an emerging goal for large scale companies and comes at significant cost, requiring a comprehensive vision to be executed consistently throughout the entire organization to achieve a successful solution. The key of this vision is to implement highly scalable, cohesive systems with proper integration to create an end-to-end platform, rather than using disparate applications to achieve various business functions. The newest piece of the puzzle in an SAP-centric digital world is C/4HANA, a set of front-office cloud applications for SAP’s CRM suite.

Historically, SAP set the basis for CRM competing against Oracle for market share – as new products and innovations by competitors have arrived, SAP’s CRM product has been criticized by some as being outdated and sluggish. Customers running SAP under the hood for ERP systems have increasingly turned to Salesforce for their CRM needs. Today, Salesforce is the CRM market leader at about 19 percent compared to SAP’s 8.5 percent. Per Gartner figures, the CRM sector has overtaken ERP in revenue, and expects to grow to 75 billion by 2022 compared to ERP’s 44 billion market cap.

The C/4HANA portfolio consists of SAP Marketing Cloud, SAP Commerce Cloud, SAP Service Cloud, SAP Customer Data Cloud, and SAP Sales Cloud. SAP acquired several different CRM market leaders to build out these front-office applications, which will be the core components of C/4HANA:

  • Hybris – E-Commerce Platform
  • Gigya – Customer Identity Management
  • Callidus Cloud – Sales Performance Management
  • Coresystems – AI, crowdsourcing to manage field service technicians

What once was the status quo CRM flavor is now being challenged by SAP’s primary goal for the C/4HANA evolution – CRM systems shifting to focus on the customer rather than just managing sales.

The ultimate vision is to achieve a 360-degree view of the customer by using the C/4HANA portfolio coupled with S/4HANA integration (SAP’s ERP suite). Connection to the back-office will lend to the customer management experience by providing insight into the customer at a deeper level of personalization. While decision makers traditionally use channel based information in their CRM applications, the 360-degree view takes into account a multitude of ERP data based on each customer’s full portfolio, providing a comprehensive perspective, which utilizes data made available from all business units.

Supply chain and transactional data are connected to the customer record, and commerce in any channel is integrated with the SAP Cloud Platform. What products does that customer already own? Are they working with support teams for any of these products? Are they up to date on their billing cycle? This type of data completes the customer view lending to the typical sales management data like product stock availability or shipment dates.

Further differentiation includes integration with SAP Leonardo to utilize machine learning technology and deliver solutions based on those findings. The new CRM suite provides an updated look and feel, a common UI obtained through Fiori framework, which is an enticing goal for existing SAP customers due to the standardized design language which provides consistency across applications. Thus, partner implementations will be increasingly important as C/4HANA matures and integration is truly achieved, factoring in organization-specific customization as well.

C/4HANA is not only a response to Salesforce’ success and an attempt to gain market share in the CRM market, but it’s a visionary step in a direction that only a large ERP software company like SAP can go,delivering a full suite of applications that create one digital platform, CRM and ERP, to create a comprehensive customer-based view.

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