C/4HANA the new Intelligent customer experience platform

24 July 2018

Thierry Crifasi

Thierry Crifasi

Global Head of C/4HANA CoE

At Sapphire 2018, SAP unveiled C/4HANA - a new product portfolio replacing Hybris as well as a new ‘holistic vision’ of customer experience. Is this just product repackaging or does it bring any real value to your business?

Over the last few years, we have witnessed SAP acquisition of several products in different functional areas (sales, service and marketing) but SAP never fully explained how they all fit into a long-term vision. On top of this, the SAP Hybris branding never really stuck within the ecosystem as many people still saw Hybris as mostly a Commerce solution.

What has been announced?

The Hybris brand is dead and C/4HANA is the new product suite, and with it comes the new SAP customer experience strategy. SAP is putting all its weight behind this move. C/4HANA is the product (suite) now supported by the largest development team within SAP.

The 4 main pillars of the portfolio (sales, service, commerce and marketing) have been renamed and closely follow its main competitors, namely Salesforce and Oracle: for example, SAP Sales Cloud vs Salesforce/Oracle Sales Cloud. This should make it easier for customers to understand what capability they cover as well as to reinforce the fact the whole suite is in the Public Cloud.

The slide below describes the high-level capability of each product:
  • SAP Marketing and Commerce Cloud have not changed other than being renamed
  • SAP Sales Cloud is the former Hybris Sales Cloud product “packaged up” with CallidusCloud CPQ and Sales Performance Management products as well as the former Hybris Revenue product developed by SAP and released last year
  • SAP Service Cloud is the former Hybris Service Cloud product “packaged up” with the recently acquired excellent Field service capability from Coresystems as well as AI chatbot capability from the French start up Recast.ai acquired earlier this year.

SAP Customer Data Cloud is the former Gigya with 3 products: Identity, Consent and Profile. The consent module is crucial to ensure your Customer experience platform supports GDPR.

SAP Cloud platform and all its services can be leveraged to extend the above solutions or build new applications. Based on a 3-year roadmap shared with partners, a strategic push for microservices has also been announced.
Many intelligent AI/ML services based on SAP Leonardo and embedded in the C/4HANA products have also been announced.

Figure 1. The SAP Customer Experience Suite  Source: SAP

Why this timing?

Customer experience and customer relationship management (CRM) technologies are a growth market and SAP is looking for a growth engine for its Cloud business. In fact, CRM software by license revenue is already this year’s largest category in the enterprise application market. The HANA platform and S/4HANA have been growth engines for SAP over the last few years but improving customer experience is now firmly on the top of the boardroom agenda. 

Last time SAP ran a major CRM campaign was 3 or 4 years ago with the ‘Beyond CRM’ campaign. Combined with the C/4HANA rebranding this campaign will generate renewed focus and attract attention from customers looking at digital transformation programmes.

Finally, I think this is a clever move by SAP at a time when many of its ECC customers are evaluating their future roadmap to S/4HANA. There is no straight and easy migration path from ECC to S/4HANA and a common strategy is to reimplement the solution. As a result, there is either a risk of customers defecting to the competition for their backend, or a delay in making this major decision.  Organisations looking to truly transform themselves into a digitally enabled enterprise will have to look at their CRM strategy at the same time as they are upgrading their backend. C/4HANA can therefore act as a major enabler for SAP by facilitating S/4HANA migrations.

The ease of integration of C/4HANA products with S/4HANA will enable these organisations to provide their customers with a holistic customer experience from front-end to backend not just limited to a nice website or a clever chatbot. This integration is underpinned by a common data model that will enable what we call at Bluefin the Automated Enterprise.

What is C/4HANA positioning?

Over the last 2 years, SAP has been assembling a portfolio of solutions either through acquisitions or its own development: Abakus, Gigya, CallidusCloud, Recast.ai, Coresystems and Hybris Revenue. The rebranding and repackaging as described above must be restructured to align to the C/4HANA vision.

The trends driving change in today’s customer experience strategy have been around for a while and to a large extent were already supported by the SAP Hybris portfolio: single view of the customer, customers for life from selling products to services and a holistic customer experience connecting front and back office. C/4HANA will strengthen the SAP position in these areas.

The most recent trend around “trusted data” which enables the ability to offer personalised offers is a strong angle SAP is pushing through its Gigya acquisition now called Customer Data Cloud. Recent consumer backlashes like the Facebook Cambridge Analytica data scandal have shown organisations cannot be “creepy” anymore with their customers and collect any data they want without customer consent. Customer relationships should be based on trust and shared with customers instead of being managed via an inside-out approach.

Integration has always been SAP’s strength. C/4HANA will obviously continue to offer ease of integration to customers with SAP backends like ECC or S/4HANA. The integration of the recently acquired CallidusCloud and Coresystems products into C/4HANA will also strengthen the horizontal integration within the sales and service offerings as well as enlarge the functional coverage for these scenarios, thus allowing SAP to better compete with the likes of Salesforce.

What are the remaining questions?

SAP has already shared with its partners a detailed 3-year development roadmap for the C/4HANA portfolio. There are still quite a few clarifications needed before partners can confidently advise their customers on their own roadmap. Personally, and maybe because I have been a solution architect for so long, I would like to know more about the key integrations points for all the recently acquired products mentioned earlier, both for master data and the transactional process.

Pricing is also another key question. Taking for example SAP Sales Cloud, will SAP keep the current licensing versions with Standard, Professional and Enterprise levels? One can imagine that Callidus CPQ and SPM modules might be sold within the Enterprise edition. Or will they be sold as separate add-ons?

Finally, as partners, we worry about ‘enablement’ or our ability to go and advise our clients on what products to buy and implement as well as product implementation training. The newly acquired products come from much smaller organisations which did not have the scale to train a large ecosystem. I hope it won’t take too long for this to happen.

Find out more about how the world of customer engagement and sales is changing in our latest video. Also, if you have any questions about C/4HANA don't hesitate to get in touch.
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About the author

Thierry Crifasi

Global Head of C/4HANA CoE

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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