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Author's profile photo Dietmar Bohn

8 Reasons that Enterprises Build Cloud Customer Engagement Solutions on Top of Existing Investments

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler. – Albert Einstein

Making it simpler for the customer is one of the key objectives of public cloud solutions vendors. Discrete Manufacturing Industries companies across the regions – for smaller companies and also larger enterprises in High Tech, Industrial Manufacturing, Automotive and Aerospace – are looking into public cloud CRM solutions for Customer Engagement. Some replace existing home-grown or legacy CRM tools with public cloud CRM solutions, others leverage public cloud CRM to provide a first-time Customer Engagement tool to their business, but most of them build cloud solutions on top of their existing investments – for different purposes, e.g. to complement their CRM or ERP on-premise solutions. If done right, it will help those enterprises grow faster than their peer group! No wonder so many companies ask for more transparency and guidance leveraging public cloud Customer Engagement solutions to improve their sales, marketing, service and commerce business areas.











In this blog, I want to share the 8 top reasons successful sales organizations of small or larger enterprises have built public cloud solutions on top of their existing ERP or CRM investments:

  1. All Locations and Business Units
  2. Mobility
  3. Collaboration
  4. Social
  5. CRM Intelligence
  6. Omni Channel
  7. eCommerce
  8. Sales Performance Management


All Locations and Business Units

Public cloud is an excellent approach to cover the rollout of sales, service or marketing teams of every (smaller) subsidiary, acquisition, or business unit of an enterprise in an acceptable time (and budget). Many enterprises have already implemented an on-premise CRM solution for their larger sales, service and marketing teams, yet, they’d never complete the rollout to each and every subsidiary with this on-premise approach. Leveraging a public cloud CRM solution for an expedited rollout to all their subsidiaries is the only choice for many enterprises, for completion in an acceptable time, TCO, and with the given IT resource situation.

Most companies I know could not finish their global CRM on-premise deployment to every location or unit, since:

  • IT could not avail the required resources, due to priorities or resource constraints
  • subsidiaries are averse to global CRM template

Here’s a typical case of a CRM implementation approach of a global player in the Discrete Manufacturing Industries space: IT executes the rollout plan, starting with the major countries and units, e.g. 10 – 20 countries out of the 40 to 60 sales locations – covering 70-80% of the enterprise’s revenue stream. They typically could not continue the rollout to the other smaller subsidiaries or it takes too long. Rolling out a public cloud CRM solution is typically the only way to cover every sales location with an enterprise sales solution in an acceptable time.

But even if the global IT could roll out the global CRM template to every subsidiary and unit, the subsidiaries might not be interested in the global solution, nor would they want to have the data in their country – guess you all know why this is a typical issue in sales. And on the other hand, the smaller IT teams in the subsidiary could not implement and run a copy of the company’s CRM template in their country on their own – due to resource and IT skills issues. E.g., I talked to a global IM&C player who always had the plan to cover its 60 locations across the globe – however, 30 subsidiaries are still not covered after having rolled out the CRM solution 10 years ago! Will it ever happen with the traditional approach?

For both cases, public cloud CRM solutions are the best approach for covering every sales location in an acceptable time frame and TCO – ensuring high productivity, transparency and customer/employee satisfaction in every Sales & Service Unit across the regions.



Mobility is a very attractive topic for sales and service today, since mobility solutions for both lines of business really came along over the past couple of years – leveraging new technologies, devices etc. However, modern mobility solutions require a broad set of technologies – a key challenge for many companies. A public cloud mobility solution which hides this complexity is the only choice  for many enterprises – where the public cloud mobility vendor operates the infrastructure (middleware, devise and software management for provision and operations, security etc.) in a productive way. So, the fastest and probably most cost-effective way to provide a modern mobile sales or service solution to the business is to complement existing on-premise CRM solutions with a mobility solution in the cloud – with an out-of-the-box connection to the CRM system.

Modern mobile sales or service solutions of public cloud CRM solutions are device-agnostic and player-based. No additional mobile sales or service software need be configured or tailored to the company-specific needs: the CRM capabilities are provided on the mobile device as on the desktop – provided the same configuration and customization is used – and it’s also available for on- and off-line usage.



Collaboration has been an important topic over more than a decade – especially in marketing and sales. Collaboration solutions have been significantly improved over the past two years, leveraging social media mechanisms such as news feeds or social profiles. With the public cloud approach, the collaboration solution can be accessed from everywhere – a huge benefit for all internal users and especially for the external users such as partners or customers.

A professional collaboration solution not only enables the user to easily create a new collaboration room, identifies the ideal colleagues required (through their social profile), provides news feeds (e.g. a kind of Facebook for sales reps) without information overflow, and also offers out of the box integration into CRM and ERP, so that the collaboration rooms may accessed directly in an opportunity, quote, order etc. And since CRM and ERP systems provide feed-enablement of objects such as opportunity, quote, order etc., these objects could provide an update into the news feeds automatically (e.g. in case an opportunity has been moved into the next stage, a quote has been finalized etc.) – a very interesting solution for many sales organizations, especially when selling complex solutions within a team approach.

Check out the SAP Jam capabilities for more details on this important topic.



Leveraging Social Media is getting more and more interesting, especially for enterprises in the B2C or B2B2C business (e.g. High Tech companies). These companies complement their existing CRM solution to:

  • analyze social media
  • directly engage with their customers through social media

With Social Media Analytics solutions you will be able to easily understand the voice of your customers, the sentiment in the market and also get insight into exactly what your customers or their customers are saying about your company, your products, the prices, the way you deal with customers (e.g. in warranty or complaint cases), their experiences with your call center, etc.

Social Customer Engagement solutions enable companies to respond directly to their customers through social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), e.g. for services cases, complaints etc.

Leveraging social media for a complete 360° view of customers, contacts and competitors is table stakes for next generation CRM solutions, and you should expect it from every modern CRM solution: with direct integration of a cloud-based social media intelligence tool (e.g. InsideView), into account & contact management. This function does not require an additional public cloud solution but rather an upgrade of your existing CRM system in case you do not already have this capability today.


CRM Intelligence

Since selling is getting more difficult for Discrete Manufacturing Industries companies due to the known challenges (product commoditization, informed & demanding customers etc.) enterprises move from tactical to strategic selling which requires a deeper understanding of their customers. Today, on average, 1% of enterprises’ data is analyzed – known as “big dark data problem”.

With public cloud intelligence solutions, marketing, sales and service professional can analyze all company-wide customer data (from different systems such as ERP, CRM etc.) and external sources, (incl. unstructured data from the internet) – high volume data analyses in real-time by leveraging in-memory technology. Public cloud is the enabler –  enterprises do not need an in-memory expert to be able to leverage these technologies.

With public cloud CRM intelligence solutions, enterprises can easily identify their most valuable customers and then segment and classify them – based on a high number of criteria (revenue, profit, loyalty, return rate etc.). The integration into CRM and ERP ensures that the target groups or classification indices, activities etc. created in these solutions data and insights can be directly used in the CRM system for follow-up activities etc.


Omni-Channel and eCommerce

Complementing an existing CRM with public cloud call center or partner channel management solution helps companies quickly move to an omni-channel business model.  Adding a public cloud eCommerce solution for omni-channel commerce – allows synchronized master data and full end-to-end process integration across Marketing, SFA, Call Center, Partner Channels, eCommerce and ERP for the fulfillment. E.g., in the consumer business, it is not an exception that you can order the products via the web channel and pick them up at the next store, with support from the call center if required – a hot topic also for the B2C business of e.g. High Tech enterprises.


Sales Performance Management

In different industries, including Discrete Manufacturing, sales management avoids creating complex incentive plans with an Incentive & Commission Management solution, prefers to set the quota per sales professional and complement it with specific goals, e.g. $1M revenue with goals such as 20% revenue from new products or 10% from new customers. For this, enterprises complement their existing CRM with public cloud HR solutions, such as goals & objectives management, hiring and on-boarding solutions and more.

Other interesting public cloud solutions to complement existing CRM or ERP on-premise investments are “Cloud Portal” and “Solution Configurator”. Cloud Portal is an attractive topic for enterprises, e.g. for a first step into the public cloud approach. A public cloud based Solution Configurator could be an easy way to reduce complexity in the generation of quotes when selling complex solutions.

The following picture provides an overview on SAP’s cloud solutions for the areas described above:



To complement existing CRM and ERP solutions, Discrete Manufacturing Industries companies expect Integrated Industry Cloud solutions, covering end-to-end and industry-centric processes (of increasing complexity) in the Cloud – securely and reliably and with integration to master data and process integration.



When designing the future IT landscape, such as an Integrated Cloud architecture (Hybrid Cloud) – avoiding complexity is the mantra! Don’t let complexity win, you need to beat it! When you decide to go with a public cloud CRM solution rollout, consider your short-, mid and long-term objectives and systems architecture – and avoid falling back to an IT landscape with isolated, siloed public cloud solutions. Develop your Cloud or Hybrid Cloud strategy and road map with a clear picture of your future solution architecture across public cloud, private cloud and on-premise solutions, and with a well-defined integration plan to support your end-to-end processes in a productive way. Check out which vendors could offer you an end-to-end service level along your entire value chain – a key point to keep the TCO affordable! Always have an integrated cloud in mind!



One of the top concerns of cloud skeptics is the fear of sacrificing data security when allowing company data outside the company’s firewall. When it comes to security and privacy, don’t just assume that your own data center is the most secure place on earth. All vendors of enterprise public cloud solutions will provide you the required answers and details on their security – depending on your company-specific requirements. Security may increase when using public cloud solutions due to ISO security standards that cloud providers must adhere to, in addition to the regular security audits. However, don’t forget to consider the public cloud vendor’s data center location as a key point here.

Some public cloud solution vendors already have a kind ofVisit the SAP Cloud Data Center” offering.

I hope this helped you get a better understanding of why a public cloud CRM solution should be your preferred choice.

For an overview on the general benefit of public cloud solutions, check out my other blog “Public Cloud for Your Customer Engagement Solution: Why Now?


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