SAP: Moving the Needles

Last Monday, we previewed upcoming news from the SAP CX Live event in Orlando. By Wednesday, I was standing beneath the Florida palm trees, as CX Live spilled over into Sapphire Now, the giant (30,000 attendees) global SAP user conference. My mission, to put flesh on the bones of the new ABM capabilities, find out more about SAP C/4 HANA Foundation, and learn if I was pronouncing Ruum correctly.

I kicked off the investigation with new (March 2019) SAP CX CMO Jason Rose. Rose came along with the high profile 2017 Gigya acquisition, but had previously spent some six years with SAP in product and BI/analytics marketing. As a self-described Gigyan, the first thing he wanted to discuss was the enterprise grade customer data platform announced at the event.

“The standout capability in Marketing Cloud is segmentation, and the more information you have in the customer profile, the better your segmentation is going to be. We’re augmenting the single profile view with third party data, Marketing Cloud data, Commerce data, which is then tied back to your first party, opt-in, consented information, so you have an accurate and complete view of that customer.”

Isn’t it problematic to append anonymous third party data to PII? “There’s an opportunity to expose that data, and tell you we’re collected data we think is you; you can then invalidate, strike it, disapprove it (it’s true, but don’t keep it). But for segmentation, we anonymize the data anyway.”

Sounds familiar? Of course, both Adobe and Oracle were strongly emphasizing CDP initiatives at their conferences earlier this year, and Salesforce is said to be moving in a similar direction. But both SAP and Oracle might have a trump card to play here, because of their deep roots in back-office data (SAP through S/4 HANA, to which C/4 HANA is the front-office complement).

“A lot of the conference has focused around experience management, and your experience as a customer doesn’t end in the front-office, and frankly doesn’t even end after you have the product. We are very uniquely positioned with our intelligent enterprise to connect C/4 HANA to S/4 HANA and get everything from initial experience through to fulfillment, through to service, to bring all of those pieces together.”

For clarity on ABM, I turned to Marketing Cloud GM Nicholas Cumins. “Number one, we want to make sure that the Marketing Cloud fully supports an ABM approach. Second, we want to stay focused in Marketing Cloud on the understanding of the customer, and the decisioning around it. Therefore we are partnering with key players, such as Demandbase, to complement us.” The strategy is to provide full support for the “demand unit” within the Market Cloud.

As Cumins is happy to admit, the term “demand unit,” a cross-functional group of customers exhibiting a business interest, is borrowed, with permission, from SiriusDecisions. “The demand unit becomes a group which you can use for targeting purposes and to personalize engagement. Also, Demandbase first and foremost as a partner, is bringing us something we don’t have, which is intent data. They will be able to feed our customer profiles, at the account level, with the very strong intent data they’re getting by listening to online exchanges out there.”

If SAP CX has B2C roots, growing as it did out commerce platform Hybris, there now seems to be a stronger emphasis on B2B (shades of Adobe, again?). “B2B is ripe for disruption, and we have a latecomer advantage, able to look at the solutions out there; and what we realized is that most of the marketing cloud solutions out there are really made for the way people were doing B2B marketing twenty years ago. Very much volume based — get as many contacts as possible, throw them over the fence to sales, and forget about them. A lot of waste, and missing the whole feedback loop we need for optimization purposes.”

So…Ruum? It’s pronounced like “room.” “It’s a very cool, lean, collaboration environment, and very much project-oriented. What’s interesting for the Marketing Cloud is that many of our customers still use agencies a lot. From the Marketing Cloud, you can initiate a ‘ruum’ in a seamless way, a closed environment, and then invite people inside or outside your organization — such as agencies — and collaborate with them on briefs or marketing materials which, on completion, can be pushed direct to Marketing Cloud to execute a campaign.”

Despite SAP’s clear strategic emphasis on the front-office and CX, it’s still better known as providing back-office software for enterprises around the world. I asked Rose how he faced up to the challenge of becoming as well known for front-office services as, say, Salesforce? “That’s firmly in my office, and it’s exciting. I have a relationship with Alicia Tillman, the CMO of SAP, and the brand team, to help usher in a cultural shift, which our little CX team can’t do on its own. But with [experience management company] Qualtrics coming in, that helps move the needle, that little $8 billion acquisition. So I’m working not only with my team, but with the big SAP team, to work out how to be relevant to marketers and these other different audiences.”

Are you consciously, then, seeking customers who don’t already have deep investments in SAP on the IT side? “That’s one of the benefits of growing through acquisitions. We now have established relationships with CROs through our Callidus Cloud acquisition, CDOs through Gigya, and that gives us a better opportunity than having CIOs introduce us to their CMOs.”

SAP partly covered DMN’s expenses to attend CX Live/Sapphire Now

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