In October I attended the 2016 Hybris Americas Summit in Ft. Lauderdale. One might  wonder what someone with a keen interest in user experience would be doing at a tech-heavy conference. We all know that great technology drives great experiences, and I’m happy to report that Hybris has some interesting stuff.  So, following are several topics that piqued my interest during two days of sessions, an  interview with Hybris executives, and casual conversations with their customers and system integrators.
Cool Implementation
As a UX guy, I’m always curious about experiences that are created through the use of Hybris technology. I had a 30-minute sit-down with Jamie Anderson, Global CMO of SAP Hybris, and he walked us through a very cool example of their UX work. In Germany, Butiq Feinwaren’s wine store runs on Hybris and is using SAP back-office technology to develop an amazing customer experience. It’s NOT your typical wine store; you can browse bottles and bottles of wine, but they also leverage Hybris to help you select the wine that best suits your needs and tastes. When you enter the store, you are given an iPad to help you choose the wine. As someone who is a little intimidated by talking to the clerks in the wine store, I really like that idea. How many of us have felt insecure when we’re asked “How much are you willing to spend?” “I don’t know, you tell me, Mr. Clerk.” The idea of having a guided buying experience removes all that awkwardness between customers and the store clerk. Today, when we as consumers feel empowered, technology really becomes an enabler rather than a barrier.
Here is what’s going on:

  • The algorithm behind the scenes will guide you by suggesting wines that fit your criteria. Once you go through the guided buying process and choose wines that interest you, the lights on the shelf behind those wines light up; then go and check them out.
  • Once you remove the bottle from the shelf, the iPad loads ratings and reviews for that particular wine. I’ve seen something similar at Best Buy — you have to scan a QR code to get ratings and reviews, but in this instance it’s all seamless. Besides checking the label, you are now getting community feedback on it. Simple, yet great idea!
  • If you want to buy the wine, just add it to your virtual shopping cart and place the bottle back on the shelf. But if you put it back without adding it to your cart, the system will remember that and update your profile for future visits, if you return.
  • The cool idea behind the virtual shopping cart is that you can walk around the store with an iPad, instead of basket or cart full of bottles.
  • Once you are ready to check out, your shopping cart is visible to the clerk at the counter checkout; after you set up your account, the process is seamless.
  • As you are finishing the checkout process it triggers the back office team to assemble your wine selections and bring them to you.

Again, if you think about it, the integration of the online experience into a physical store is just amazing. I was hoping to find these types of UX examples during the conference and Jamie delivered.

Microservices
Early on, I thought that microservices were just what they sound like, micro and services 🙂 Good thing I caught up with John Heald, Global VP of SAP Hybris Service Solutions, as he gave me a primer on the topic. My concern about microservices was that it would be difficult to seamlessly integrate them into your Hybris as a Service also known as YaaS platform from the user experience perspective; it sounded like one more thing to worry about. Imagine if you implement a loyalty microservice from the YaaS marketplace, invest in creating a commerce experience for your brand, products, and customers, then attempt to integrate loyalty … only to find out that you can’t control the user interface.

John grounded me and explained that in order for services to make it in the YaaS marketplace in the first place, they have to offer the level of flexibility that system integrators and companies need today. Otherwise, there is a risk of creating a mishmash of experiences for customers. Often, the microservices are componentized, so you can use only the component that you need for your solution, giving you a lot of flexibility. With microservices, you can implement more deployments and scale your solution when you need it without adding more hardware. Their integrations are cleaner than traditional APIs, as they allow you to piece-meal your solutions as needed. Truth be told, the future of microservices is highly dependent on ISVs building solutions/product extensions for different components of the Hybris solution, but they have a great platform to engage, test and apply their solutions through the YaaS marketplace.

Data Is the Fuel
This really resonated well with me, as when you have data at the core of your platform (and when I say platform, I mean Sales, Service, Commerce and Billing), it’s much easier to create that omnichannel experience that customers expect from us today. For example, I have my Christmas list in a shopping cart and my home internet crashes at my house, when I call customer service, the customer service representative should be able to get access to the contents of my cart and help me complete the purchase. Without having access to data, we are still living in a siloed world, for example, asking customers offline for data that they’ve already provided online. Discerning customers are not going to put up with that anymore.

Giving context to your data, combining explicit (transactional) data with behavioral data (digital or in-store experiences) is what is going to fuel future customer experiences. Without consolidated data, your customer experiences are going to continue to be siloed, and it’s just a matter of time before your customers demand better or will find someone else who can offer them the omnichannel experience they desire and, more important, deserve.

Implementation of the Hybris Solution
Last, there were plenty of sessions in which customers talked about their implementation of the Hybris solution. As you can imagine, some were more successful than others; in general, everyone that I had the opportunity to catch up with felt positive about Hybris, particularly regarding where the product is going and future opportunities. Mind you, everybody knows these are not cheap solutions, but considering investments that SAP is making in the microservices (there are over 1,500 developers globally working on Hybris) and innovative product extensions available through the YaaS marketplace, it gives customers a sense that they are in it for the long haul. Speaking to system integrators that are platform agnostic also supports this notion that the Hybris is here to stay and more often is a better choice than its competitors can offer from integration, capabilities and time-to-market perspectives.

(Full Disclosure: I was invited by Hybris to their Americas Summit 2016 as a member of the influencer community. The opinions expressed here are my own conclusions, based on the time I spent with the customers, service integrators and Hybris executives.)

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