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Author's profile photo Scott Hirst

8 Customer Engagement Takeaways from the SAP International Conference for Utilities

It has been a few weeks since the SAP International Conference for Utilities in Lisbon. There were lots of highlights for Utilities Customer Engagement. Here are my top 8 takeaways…

  1. SAP to Resell Siemens Energy IP
  2. SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer ready for Prime Time
  3. SAP CRM to become an addon module of SAP S/4.
  4. SAP Hybris Marketing takes off
  5. SAP Hybris Service Engagement Center could replace CIC0.
  6. SAP Hybris Commerce getting traction in the Digital Customer Experience
  7. Hybris Billing Comes of Age.
  8. A vision for the future of Cloud based CRM & Billing for Utilities


1) SAP to Resell Siemens Energy IP

Henry Bailey announced that SAP has signed a global agreement to resell Siemens’ market-leading meter data management solution, EnergyIP. It will be called “SAP Meter Data Management by Siemens”. Benefits include:

  • Solution from one provider
  • Joint support from SAP and Siemens
  • Aligned roadmap

I have written before about the opportunity to simplify Meter Data Management by taking a 2 tier approach. As noted at that time “SAP is clear that it supports it’s MDM partners and the Utilities that require a 3 tier MDUS approach. The simplified 2 tier architecture will not be for everyone.” Clearly this reseller announcement reinforces SAP’s commitment to a 3 tier approach.

But this is more than just meter data management, this is about a bigger IoT play with Siemens. Siemens refer to Energy IP as a “smart grid application platform”. The  press release states “SAP and Siemens plan to help utility customers integrate real-time processing of Big Data generated by millions of connected meters and sensors to provide better insight and control for all energy producers and consumers”. If you think about the Siemens announcement in the context of a broader vision for IoT and all the sensors (in addition to meters) that Energy IP could provide connectivity to, then announcement provides a lot of food for thought.


2) SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer ready for Prime Time

Italian Utility ACEA presented their Customer Engagement program. They have gone live with SAP Cloud for Customer as a Single Customer View customer service solution across their entire customer system landscape including 3 IS-U instances, 2 SAP CRM instances and a Sieble CRM system – see the following diagram. ACEA have proven the ability to integrate to a multifaceted backend environment made up of SAP systems with different release levels and non-SAP systems using a mix of standard and customised integration patterns.

Meanwhile, the depth and breadth of SAP Cloud for Customer capability continues to grow. Steen Hansen demonstrated SAP Hybris Sales & Service Cloud for Utilities and talked about the future and vision to keep adding Utility industry functionality and processes such as:

  • Guided Move In, Move Out, and Transfer processes
  • Enabling Calls to IS-U Front Office Processes
  • S/4 HANA integration


3) SAP CRM to become an addon module of SAP S/4.

In news that should see streamers falling from the ceilings of hundreds of utilities around the world SAP CRM for Utilities is planned to become a module of S/4 HANA. Middleware administration and data replication is an ongoing battle for many Utilities using SAP CRM. However in the future these challenges are set to disappear as SAP plans to move SAP CRM into SAP S/4 HANA as an “add-on” module. No separate CRM instance, no data replication, no middleware.


While the future of cross-industry SAP CRM as an S/4 add-on module has been public for some time, this was welcome confirmation that the Utilities Industry team is leading the charge to release Utilities Industry specific capabilities as a SAP CRM add-on module for S/4 HANA.

While no specific future dates can be promised, any Utilities that use SAP CRM and are planning their S/4 HANA roadmap over the next few years should talk to their local SAP representatives about the SAP CRM add-on module.

Not only may this significantly simplify your CRM operations and reduce your cost of ownership, but may also open CRM capabilities to hundreds utilities that have not had the appetite to deploy a separate SAP CRM instance. For instance, you might just want to use C&I multi-site quotations or product modelling or demand response management. In the future you should be able to use these capabilities as if they are simply extra IS-U modules.


4) SAP Hybris Marketing Takes Off

At the conference FARYS TMVW a Belgian water company demonstrated their CRM on HANA solution. They use SAP CRM Marketing on HANA to segment more than 700,000 customer immediately seamlessly drawing on attributes from both CRM and IS-U. They use Marketing to provide an internal central calendar view of planned outages as well as external mobile self service and outbound communications with customers & partners (SMS, email, mail etc).

At previous conferences Centerpoint energy has also talked about running marketing segmentation on their 10 million business partners. With HANA it takes 7-8 minutes to create a campaign compared to 6-8 weeks in the past.

ACEA presented their Customer Engagement program. They use SAP Hybris Marketing to perform sophisticated analysis on internal and external data in real time to identify customer sentiment and needs to develop personalised communication strategies or next best action for both residential and commercial customers. ACEA is the first Utility that I have seen present their use of SAP Hybris Marketing. Given the success that Utilities have had with SAP CRM Marketing the adoption of SAP Hybris Marketing will continue to take off.

SAP Hybris Marketing is a next generation solution that replaces SAP CRM Marketing and in April 2017 was named as a Leader by Gartner in their Magic Quadrant for Multichannel Campaign Management.

5) SAP Hybris Service Engagement Center could replace CIC0.

Traditionally there has been 2 options for supporting your call center either augment IS-U with a full featured CRM system (SAP CRM or SAP Cloud for Customer) or use the SAP Customer Interaction Center (transaction CIC0) directly in IS-U as an agent workplace to launch functionality. There are many Utilities that use CIC0 today and like the late artist Prince – they are still partying like its 1999. Now there is a new modern solution to transform the user experience. The SAP Hybris Engagement Center offers a next generation unified agent desktop with built-in communication channels (telephony, webchat, chat etc), ticketing and visibility into customer data and interaction history.

Paul Roth demonstrated the SAP Hybris Engagement Center featuring industry specific content a native UI5 tree view for the Utilities Overview. Like CIC0 The SAP Hybris Engagement Center can call Utilities transactions in SAP GUI HTML.

The SAP Hybris Service Engagement Center is delivered via the YAAS microservice platform. This is currently available in the USA, Germany, UK and Switzerland. YAAS is planned to be commercially available in other countries.


6) SAP Hybris Commerce getting traction in the Digital Customer Experience

The Multi-channel Foundation for Utilities (MCFU) has been adopted enthusiastically by Utilities around the world the world. Hanno Schupp of New Zealand Utility Contact Energy made a great presentation about their implementation of MCFU and the benefits it delivered, including Improved customer experience with more responsive user Interface and increased speed to market for new customer self-services. While Contact Energy found that “most screens worked “out of the box” and were easy to extend” they did struggle to find development resources for SAPUI5 which is SAP’s proprietary version of HTML5. Which posed a problem as the Contact Energy marketing team wanted a significantly different look and feel (e.g. Menu Bar and Side Bars rather than the standard tile based approach). Contact Energy plan to continue using the MCFU services, but revert to the standard HTML5, CSS, JavaScript framework provided by their existing Content Management System.

I have written before about situations when the Multi-Channel Foundation is not enough. But this concern raised by Contact Energy is a very practical additional consideration. One of the benefits of Hybris Commerce is its architecture based on widely used standards based technologies. So it is easy to get UX developers and get them productive rapidly.

It was also great to see Italian utility ACEA present their use of SAP Hybris Commerce for Utility self service. ACEA are the first Utility to use Hybris Commerce for self service. ACEA offers consumers and customers a digital channel to manage their accounts, buy products and request any type of service via Web and mobile applications.



7) Hybris Billing Comes of Age.

During the “Interactive Panel: Customer Engagement for Utilities” at the conference the story of TXU was presented. TXU is the largest electricity provider in Texas with 1.7million customers. They have successfully branched out into new non-commodity products such as:

  • iThermostat (web-controlled thermostat)
  • TXU MyHome Protect (home warranty)
  • TXU ACProtect (HVAC system service warranty)

After piloting the products on their existing billing solutions TXU implemented SAP Hybris Billing fully integrated into their existing Utilities Invoicing and accounts receivable in 6 months. It gives TXU tremendous flexibility to rapidly release new products to market and significantly benefits cashflow with faster more accurate billing, billing in advance and accurate charges based on dates and service term length.

TXU has also presented their Hybris Billing story at ASUG.

They provide a brief overview in the following video.



8) A Vision for a SaaS Meter to Cash Solution

Possibly the biggest announcement at the conference was not an announcement at all, but rather a vision of a possible cloud based meter to cash solution. Many utilities are looking for a SaaS alternative to the on Premise SAP CRM & Billing solution. Currently your best bet is to host SAP CRM & Billing via the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud or use a partner service like VertexOne that packages SAP CRM & Billing as a Cloud CIS offering.

However in Henry Bailey’s key note presentation he offered a Lab Preview of a possible end to end cloud solution and a hybrid cloud and on Premise solution.

End-to-end cloud solution vs On Premise

The vision illustrated below shows two end to end solutions. At the bottom is the comprehensive on Premise solution as it exists today. At the top is a potential end-to-end solution in the SAP for Utilities Public Cloud Portfolio. The functionality of the Cloud Portfolio will be built on the assumption of simplified business processes and differ from the On Premise Portfolio industry processes. It is intended as an alternative and simplified solution – not a replacement or successor to the fully featured on Premise solution portfolio. SAP will continue to invest in IS-U as part of the digital core platform in S/4HANA.

The Public Cloud Portfolio solution components here include:

  • SAP Hybris Service Engagement Center
  • SAP Hybris Commerce Cloud
  • SAP Hybris Marketing Cloud
  • SAP Hybris Revenue Cloud
  • SAP Cloud for Energy (A cloud based solution currently in restricted beta release. It is a state-of-the-art, next generation energy analytics solution to store meter data and Instantly aggregate and analyze meter readings; determine consumption patterns; display peak demands / peak time; compare customer consumption with benchmarking, patterns; forecast consumption trends, peak demands, peak time periods. Judith Cabal from Australian Electricity Distributor Jemena spoke about their successful participation in the beta program.
  • Cloud Market Communication (to be determined)

Hybrid Cloud and onPremise

This potential end-to-end solution includes a limited scope deployment of IS-U on Premise (Bill to Cash) working in an integrated hybrid landscape with the same Public Cloud components.

There are still many details to be resolved to realise the vision in this Labs Preview. However one key takeaway is that at this stage there is no vision to deliver SAP IS-U Billing as a Public Cloud solution. So if you need the full capability of SAP IS-U but you want the ownership experience of SaaS, then you are best to consider HANA Enterprise Cloud or a partner like VertexOne. Hybrid deployments with SAP Cloud for Customer, Commerce and Marketing might also give you a more SaaS weighted solution landscape.

If your requirements are less demanding then Henry’s vision of a future “SAP for Utilities Public Cloud Portfolio” might be of interest.


As you can see there was plenty of interesting content in the customer engagement space at the conference. Whether you are running Cloud for Customer, SAP CRM or CIC0 in IS-U there are lots of exciting developments and great customer stories with Utilities like ACEA leading the way with Hybris Commerce, Marketing and Cloud for Customer.

If you have any questions post them below and I do my best answer them.

If you are Interested in how all the parts of the SAP Hybris customer engagement suite fit together with SAP IS-U and CRM refer to the following blog..

“I’m a Utility…Get me Outta Here!” Finding your way through the Customer Engagement Jungle


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      Author's profile photo Krishnendu Laha
      Krishnendu Laha

      Interesting Blog with lots of Information, Thanks for posting.

      Author's profile photo Ramana Gedela
      Ramana Gedela

      Thanks for the posting.  Interesting stuff, specially "SAP CRM to become an add-on module of SAP S/4"

      Author's profile photo Suman Biswas
      Suman Biswas

      Thanks a lot Scott for the useful information!!

      Author's profile photo Judith Caball
      Judith Caball

      Excellent summary of events in Lisbon, would be good to catch up and find out more about Acea's approach to Outage Management