As Alex Atzberger from SAP says “I call this a revolution because disappointing customer experiences have led people to revolt. They are exerting their independence and taking charge of relationships with their favorite brands. They don’t think in terms of B2B or B2C. This is the ‘Me2B’ world”. With this revolution in mind, it’s worth taking a closer look at the upcoming C/4HANA Suite.
C/4HANA is the new favorite child of SAP. Its goal: further permeate the customer relationship market with digitalization and automation.
As SAP Co-Founder Hasso Plattner was pointing out recently, SAP is feeding C/4HANA with an army of developers. So, what exactly are the developments needed to seamlessly host a set of Cloud Services together under one single brand name?
In this blog, I will discuss the challenges from a process and organizational point of view.
The building blocks of C/4HANA Suite
As we know for now, C/4HANA is basically replacing the Gigya, CallidusCloud, Hybris and CoreSystems Brands. CallidusCloud finds a new home in the SAP Hybris Sales Cloud, Gigya will be part of the Customer Data Cloud and CoreSystems will be hosted by the Service Cloud. The entire suite will then be enriched by the SAP HANA Data Management Suite, SAP Leonardo and the SCP, and finally, S/4HANA.
This services integration is designed to reintegrate customer-oriented processes — now running on premise and in cloud — that have been split over the last years by processes and applications. With C/4HANA, any single organizational entity and person should basically have the same holistic view of the customers sentiment and action history, enriched by process specific information based on data protection rules and process necessities. To do this, SAP C/4HANA will combine the necessary components — all running on SAP Cloud Platform — to deliver the refocused, end-to-end SAP Customer Experience.
The main goal of SAP C/4HANA: the leap to customer knowledge management
The new suite should go far beyond Customer Relationship Management, moving further towards “Customer Knowledge Management”. Companies will be able to, starting from a customer’s contact person, navigate to the contact order history in the Online Channel, view at a glance the main customer conflicts and tickets, create a specific promotion on the offline channel to be added to the next order invoice (if necessary) and send out a highly personalized welcome message on the online store appreciating the customer for coming back to the company’s sales channels. And this is just persona data. There is much, much more.
Although these processes should be happening already today, sometimes it takes hours and days to collect the right information to trigger the right actions. In addition, those actions are often executed by different people in different departments. With the new C/4HANA suite, this situation can radically change.
Embedded intelligence: customer engagement gets smarter
Through the new suite, customers will be able to explore how to provide better customer experiences based on AI Services. Looking forward, through the integration with SAP Leonardo, customers will have the ability to install several “ready to deploy” intelligent capabilities for managing and enhancing the customer journey. These features include image recognition for field maintenance, augmented reality, face recognition for identity checks, text extraction for different applications, conversational AI for digital business assistants and customer service chatbots for check-in, etc... With SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain service, delivery units can make cargo handling and their supply chain more secure and trusted as well.
In fact, SAP itself took the chance to reorganize themselves with a complete new buying platform changing the way customers shop for applications and solutions on SAP.com leveraging the new features of its latest technology.
Real customer orientation also needs real organizational change
As always, when information gets more and more connected, it’s important to connect people and processes as well in order to realize the full potential of a solution. I refer to the example of a company producing commodity industrial goods who may have upwards of 60,000 customers. Companies of this size need robust strategies for building up 1:1 relationships with their customers. They may have one team who serves as Customer Community Managers, responsible for caring for a specific set of buyer personas and creating personalization strategies with the help of digital promotion engines. While a separate team has the objective to deliver 24x7 Omnichannel Support Services. With C/4HANA, these separate teams will have more seamless accessibility to customer data to manufacture a customer relationship that is increasingly closer to a 1:1 experience.
The road ahead: integration, user experience and microservices for customer engagement
The new customer engagement suite will be massive – but is bigger better? The answer is always two-sided. On the one hand, companies will be able to digitize any process they want leveraging standard processes provided by the C/4HANA Suite. Therefore, attractive MicroServices and “C/4 Suite as a Service“ license modelling is something SAP customers will be left curiously waiting for.
On the other hand, numerous integration challenges between the different suite services is a real obstacle for SAP developers & customers alike. From user experience to data management, GDPR compliance and variant configuration - it is crucial that system architects take the right decisions now to fully integrate the suite and provide a seamless set of harmonized front and back office services.