Skip to main content

SAP CRM and SAP Jam - News from CRM evolution

During CRM Evolution 2017 I had the chance of talking with Volker Hildebrand and Anthony Leaper from SAP. Volker is SAP’s Global Vice President SAP Hybris and Anthony is Senior Vice President and Sales GM - Enterprise Social Software at SAP.
Topics that we covered were things CRM and collaboration, how and where SAP’s solutions are moving and, of course, the impact that the recent reshuffling in the executive board has.
Starting with the latter, there is common agreement, that if at all it is positive as likely to streamline reporting lines and hence decision processes.

First things first – after all I am a CRM guy.

Having the distinct impression that the SAP Hybris set of solutions is going a good way I was most interested in learning from Volker about how there is going to be a CRM for S4/HANA. SAP’s new generation ERP system is growing at a good clip, and according to the Q1/2017 earnings call, now has 5,800 customers with 400 new customers in the last quarter alone. Many of these customers are net new customers.
The challenge is that S4/HANA doesn’t have a CRM (yet). I have earlier already suggested two ways how this could change – marrying up the SAP Hybris family of modern CRM solutions or modernizing SAP CRM and integrating it into S4/HANA based upon HANA technology and therefore avoiding the costly CRM Middleware and data duplication. Both approaches have their merits: The cloud based SAP Hybris set of solutions is far more modern and already bases on the new SAP standard Fiori user interface. SAP CRM, on the other hand and despite only minor investments into it in the past years, is still far more powerful in many areas, and has a good installed base.
It turns out that SAP decided to merge SAP CRM into S4/HANA. This is not really a surprise for me, rather a confirmation of what I earlier heard through the grapevine. SAP is working on it for a while now as this is no minor piece of work. It includes replacing the CRM Web UI with a Fiori-based UI, adapting the main business objects, especially the customer and the business transaction, on both sides, removing CRM Middleware and replacing it with a combination of merged data models and HANA views. The latter means that there still is a kind of middleware, albeit a much simplified one, which hopefully over time can vanish altogether, following the 15 year old vision of Hasso Plattner to be able to create business applications by recombining business objects. I do expect the first release of a (renamed?) S4/HANA that includes CRM capabilities in early 2018. There is no real rush for it, if SAP provides a migration path. It is more important to get it right in order to not antagonize already nervous customers. On the other hand I do not expect a full CRM being migrated in the first instance. For example marketing: With Hybris Marketing (formerly known as Customer Engagement Intelligence) SAP In the past years has built a fairly strong solution and continues to invest into it. Hybris Marketing, furthermore, is capable of running on-premise and in the cloud. It can be used in combination with both, an S4-based CRM and SAP Hybris.
The main advantages of merging SAP CRM into S4/HANA are that this approach
a)    Opens a future roadmap for current SAP CRM customers that stretches beyond 2025. These customers else are at risk of defecting.
b)   Provides the continued chance for customers to run their SAP instance on-premise. According to Volker there are still a good number of customers that do not want to run their instance in the cloud. The key word here is choice.

Now What About SAP Jam?

SAP Jam has been a success story for SAP. Guided by Sameer Patel, SAP early on discovered that collaboration is key to successful business and to being able to engage customers in a way that results in good experiences. In order to achieve this, Jam is deeply integrated into both, SAP CRM, and the SAP Hybris set of solutions (and others, which I do not look at here). It, for example, drives the review- and community-functionalities in Hybris e-commerce. And it is exactly here, where we can expect further exciting things. Think about combining this with a bit of AI, a bot, and a knowledge base. This way a customer’s search query can first hit the KB and present a relevant result to the customer. Or, failing that, it can route the request to an agent for further processing, who is already informed about the failed search and can initiate an ad-hoc collaboration with potential experts who helps answering the customer’s inquiry. Human-machine collaboration is certainly a topic that is high on SAP’s priority list.

My Take

The CRM Part of the Equation

I think that it is a wise decision to merge SAP CRM into S4/HANA. SAP CRM has an installed base and customers that are at risk of defecting, lacking a roadmap. It also has a lot of very valuable industry-specific functionality that simply does not exist in SAP Hybris – and probably will never be there.
Modernizing SAP CRM, putting it on HANA, merging it into S4, while making it ‘cloud-ready’ therefore seems to be a very good way.
However there are some cautions that need to get considered!
For SAP this means that there will be two different code lines – “S4CRM” and the SAP Hybris set of CRM solutions – that need to get maintained. This is a pretty costly adventure. In order to minimize the redundant efforts as much functionality as possible needs to get modularized in a way that it can get used with both core solutions, S4/HANA, and SAP Hybris. This does not only affect Hybris Marketing but also solutions like Retail Execution or Trade Promotion Management, to count only two.
Proper positioning is also an issue. Having two different solutions always has the inherent risk of confusing customers; and SAP does not have a real good track record in properly positioning solutions in a way that minimizes this confusion. And here we have the added layer of on-premise versus cloud.

Jam and Collaboration

Human-Machine collaboration is a ‘thing’, especially in times like these where structured knowledge, unstructured data sets come together in very huge amounts that can no more be handled by humans. SAP seems to have understood this and bases further improvements on the groundwork that has been done in the past years.
SAP probably just needs to spread the word of what they are doing a bit more actively. I certainly would love to hear more.

Overall

Looking into customer facing functionalities SAP is back on a good road for a while now. On-demand CRM seems to be competitive sine around the second half of 2016 and the strategy becomes more clear as well. Giving on-premise customers an outlook beyond 2025 was the thing to do.

Next items on my wish list for SAP to do are getting more into detail on how the CRM road goes. While the target sector is clear now there are bunches of open questions, as mentioned above. Secondly – and although it is somewhat refreshing that SAP does not jump onto the “I am so AI” bandwagon – SAP needs to do something here to not appear as a laggard, which the company certainly is not. I am sure that SAP can manage to make their mastership of AI and machine learning more clear than they are doing now while continuing to make clear that both are means to an end: More intelligent business applications that help businesses optimizing and automating their processes, while personalizing employee and customer interaction and engagement. A good first step into this direction could be getting rid of CLEA as a name. ‘Einstein’ and ‘Leonardo’ paved the way – how about Marvin?

Comments

Last Year's Top 5 Popular Posts

SAP CRM for S/4HANA - News from the Customer Frontier

It has been a little more than half a year now that I didn’t update on what is going on with SAP CRM and S/4HANA (which I will refer to as S/4 from now on; SAP it is time for you to change the unwieldy name to something more manageable). What Happened – So FarAs you are well aware SAP is working on integrating a simplified version of SAP CRM into S4. The original roadmap offered a first customer release of an integrated product in early 2018, based on the September 2017 release of S4. The integration was planned as an add-on to S4. The initial scope of this CRM add on for S/4 was supposed to cover what is referred to as ‘core service’ functionality. This initial release shall be followed by ‘core sales’ functionality later in 2018. 2019 then is supposed to be dedicated to another round-off release covering further sales and service functionality, including loyalty management and migration tools. Roadmap and statements also so far have been fairly fuzzy about the strategic distinction b…

More Nimble News

The NewsIn the past 5 weeks or so, there have been quite a few news items about Nimble, with the biggest product news dated September 28 and the most interesting business development dated October 11. The headlines include Nimble’s deeper collaboration with Microsoft and its channel partners, as well as product innovations intended to increase the value delivered to Office 365- and G Suite users. In particular, Nimble: ·Now integrates with Circleback, an AI-powered contact capture and cleaning tool as well as their business card scanner. Nimble is now able to extract high quality contact information from email signatures and to add it to the Nimble contact record. This way it becomes easier to keep contact information current. ·Has partnered with NeoCloud. NeoCloud is a managed cloud services company that deploys and manages Office 365. The company now bundles Nimble into all its Office 365 deals and thus offers business applications on top of its infrastructure- and productivity-focused…

SAP CRM into S/4HANA - Did SAP Hit Bulls Eye?

After having talked with Volker Hildebrand about the future of SAP CRM and whether or not there will be a CRM component in S/4HANA at CRM evolution 2017 I now had the chance to follow up with some folks back at SAP in Walldorf. A little RecapVolker told me that, unsurprisingly, SAP is working actively on adding CRM functionality into S/4HANA. In fact, they are merging SAP CRM into it. This is in my eyes meanwhile also the preferred of the two possible options; the other one would be marrying SAP Hybris C4C into S/4HANA. This is the approach which I originally preferred as it would lead to a cleaner code base. I changed my mind, putting customer friendliness reasons over technological cleanliness. The main advantages of merging SAP CRM into S4/HANA over SAP Hybris C4C are that this approach a)Opens a future roadmap for current SAP CRM customers that stretches beyond 2025. These customers else are at risk of defecting. b)Provides the continued chance for customers to run their SAP instance…

Oracle Ups The Ante - Does the Salesforce Empire Strike Back?

The fall conference season is in full swing. Of the big 4 we had Oracle Open World and the SAP Hybris Summit, with Dreamforce, SAPPHIRE, and Microsoft Connect() still to come. I have covered the SAP Hybris Summit, so do not need to say much about it anymore. The event was short on great announcements – maybe they will come at SAPPHIRE – but certainly contributed to showing the clear vision forward that SAP has. And it is a compelling and consistent vision. OOW 17 was a different beast, most notably with the announcement of Oracle 18c. A year ago Oracle took Amazon full on, declaring it enemy number 1. Many analysts, including myself, were confused about this. Why Amazon and not Microsoft? After all Microsoft is the company that has a very credible IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Add the operating system and productivity software and you have a company with a formidable software stack that can be on the winning side of a Clash of Titans. While CTO Larry Ellison still took pot shots at Amazon in his …

Clari - Nipping at Salesforce's Heels?