Anyone who knows me knows that I am a major football (sorry my US friends I just can’t call it soccer) fan and like Customer Experience, this is something that I am deeply, deeply passionate about having been involved in it now for almost as many years as I actively played football.
Therefore it was with great interest that I watched the reaction to the announcement on Wednesday, June 5, where SAP announced its intent to acquire hybris, a rapidly growing leader in e-commerce technology. First of all, here’s my simple take on it. This acquisition positions SAP to deliver a next-generation commerce platform that will help enterprises optimize customer experience across a growing number of delivery channels, devices and touch points. Not only that but it takes SAP right to the ‘edge’ of customer engagement – the final mile of the customer interaction, the apex of the digital experience.
Some Press and Analyst reaction to the announcement seemed to focus on this being a ‘strikeback’ against the competition. Chris Kanarcus of IDG news noted that “Collectively SAP’s moves can be viewed as a response to rival vendors such as Oracle and Salesforce” while Cornelius Rahn from Bloomberg proclaimed, “SAP to buy hybris to fight Salesforce.com in eCommerce push“.
From my perspective, although conflict makes great headlines and, of course there is a competitive edge to any acquisition, this one in particular is less reactive and more pro-active in terms of siezing the initiative and striking a blow for the future of Customer/Consumer Engagement. As my old football coach would scream, “On yer toes son, on yer toes!” to ensure we were never caught out flat-footed in the heat of battle. And this is the same, it’s about leading from the front foot, looking to the future, and focusing on the goal.
Simply put the world of CRM has evolved – customers have evolved – and nowhere more so than in the business to consumer segment. I often remark that it has become less about Customer Relationship Management (where the company ‘owns’ the relationship) and more about the ‘Customer-Managed Relationship’ as consumers sieze more and more control over the realtionships they want to have with their favourite brands via digital channels and devices. Today’s consumers are digitally connected, socially networked, and better informed. They live ‘in the moment’, interacting with friends and sharing likes, dislikes, and opinions in real-time, via ubiquitous smart mobile devices. As a result, the way that enterprises need to engage with customers has changed. Companies need to provide a personalized brand and shopping experience, seamlessly crossing web, mobile, store, contact center and other points of engagement. Big data, cloud and social technologies have created heightened demand for commerce solutions that create a consistent customer engagement.
Our vision for SAP 360 Customer is to provide leading edge technology, solutions and best practices that allow our customers to better engage their customers. SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott beautifully articulated this as the Business-to-Business-to-Consumer space that SAP occupy at this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW event in Orlando. The combination of hybris’ commerce platform with the in-memory platform SAP HANA®, analytical and cloud applications, and the SAP® Jam social software platform will give our customers new levels of customer insight and engagement across all channels.
And as a footnote, from a competitive and footballing perspective, here’s a thought I’d like to offer. Legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly (a fellow Scot – as are all great football managers) was interviewed as his team prepared to face a tricky European tie. The reporter reeled off a list of questions, “Mr Shankly are you concerned about Gladbach’s attacking full-backs? Have you got a strategy to deal with their midfield threat? Have you had much of an opportunity to watch them?”
“Son”, he said, “I’ve no seen too much of them. I’m just focusing on putting a winning team out there. I’ll let them worry about us”.
Andrew Nusca, ZDNet
Peter Sheldon, Forrester
Kelly Liyakasa, DestinationCRM
Tim Walters, Digital Clarity Group