About a year ago I wrote a blog - How social is SAP CRM? - looking at the social solutions that SAP offered within its SAP CRM platform. Well things have been moving at a hectic pace over the last 12 months as the major enterprise CRM vendors - SAP included - have been falling over themselves to try and take a lead in this area.
So I thought it was time for a follow up to summarise what has changed and what options organisations with an SAP landscape have to fully utilise the social media platforms in their Sales, Service and Marketing teams. This will be followed by a series of blogs that will have a more detailed look at each of these areas in turn.
Regardless of the technology, however, the real power of social media is in your strategy and the imagination to get the best out of the interactions that are now possible with your customers. It is essential that before embarking on any IT project to implement social media channels into your business, you really understand what interactions your customers are looking for. There are many different channels out there and not all of these will necessarily be relevant to your customer base. It is no use ploughing cash into fully blown Facebook marketing integration when most of your customers are on Twitter. In the same way, it is no good bombarding the world with Twitter marketing campaigns, when all your customers want is your organisation to be listening and responding to complaints or answering their product queries. Some thoughts on social strategy are outlined in my blog Social strategy, the moment of truth.
Once you have your social strategy, what can SAP offer to help you
Well for the on-premise SAP CRM organisations, on the face of it not much has changed. There are still the Twitter with Marketing and Customer Service, and Facebook with Marketing business add-ons offered by SAP on the EcoHub which also make use of the other main on-premise offering of Business Object Text Analysis. However Sentiment Analysis via BusinessObjects still requires integration with a third party tool to harvest all the data from the Web and feed it into BusinessObjects for analysis.
That said, this should not hold you back. The thing to remember with most of these social technologies is that they are very open and can therefore be integrated with, in theory, anything capable of calling a web-service. Therefore this offers the possibility of integration with SAP CRM in any which way you chose, but it will require some effort.
So what has changed?
Well, for one thing in March SAP hired Sameer Patel, an expert in enterprise collaboration, as Global Vice President, Enterprise Social Software which shows that there will certainly be a focus on all things social at SAP over the coming months and years. And for another thing, there has been a raft of cloud-based solutions that have been released or enhanced. Whilst these may at first glance offer limited options to the on-premise customer, SAP is making strides in the right direction to provide the necessary integration with cloud -based solutions, SAP or otherwise, to realise the full benefit within on-premise SAP customers.
Some of the notable cloud solutions on offer
SAP Social Customer Engagement OnDemand - This tool offers the ability to manage Twitter and Facebook channels on the cloud, with prioritised messages based on sentiment and functionality that includes a social knowledgebase, message routing and escalation, social profiling and embedded analytics. It is a hosted SAP solution that uses Text Analytics for the sentiment analysis and will eventually be integrated with SAP CRM. There is currently some webservice integration to allow creation of tickets in the tool by 3rd party systems. Find out more.
SAP Sales On Demand - This is a Sales Force Automation tool and was one of the first cloud offerings which had already undergone many changes. Most recently it has been integrated with SAP CRM (or ERP) to offer a 360 view of the customer.
SAP Social Media Analytics from Netbase - This is essentially a social brand management tool that aggregates social information into a sentiment score. The hosted tool allows for analysts to define and create Scorecards that interrogate the Netbase Social intelligence data warehouse which contains 12months of social data (approximately 20 billion documents) in order to determine the social buzz, consumer passion and influencers around their brand
SAP Streamworks/SuccessFactors JAM - Streamworks is a hosted on-line collaboration tool and was around last year, but since then SAP has also acquired SuccessFactors which has a similar product called JAM. These do have key differences however which are highlighted very well in this blog. SAP does have some work to do here to clarify how each of these technologies be best used, however the Streamworks product has already moved on significantly with various integration into SAP on-premise products.
So the world has changed in a year, but there is still plenty to be done. With SAP putting so much effort into the evolution of the cloud offerings with an aggressive development cycle and better integration with SAP on-premise products, it seems that this does offer a flexible and cost-effective way into social SAP CRM. But remember, as Jim Cooks mentioned in his blog, is it technology thas holding us back or just our imaginations? the technology is only the enabler, we need to use our imaginations to fully realise the possibilities of social.
What are you imagining?