Future of SAP CRM Consultant in the New-Age Digital Era
SAP has recently announced major developments in CRM space and many more are planned in near future, aiming at a greater pie in the growing CRM market and to take direct aim at SFDC, . These days, you must have heard lot of buzz words like “CRM is dead”, “Traditional CRM”, “beyond CRM” and the latest one in this series is “Customer Experience” though it is not new. This is a major paradigm shift for CRM to move away from an orientation around a sales rep to a 360 degree focus on the CUSTOMER. Let us hope SAP can pull off this time with the new strategy and helps the SAP CRM eco-system, that was built over a decade.
In this backdrop, it would be a challenge for SAP CRM consultants to stay relevant in the growing CRM market and they need to plan early to adapt to these technological changes.
This blog will highlight some of the options that we have as a CRM Consultant.
Before that, let us see SAP’s recent announcements and the new solution offerings in CRM space.
- SAP CRM is currently guaranteed to be supported till at least 2025 and SAP has not announced any end-of-life date or replacement for SAP CRM on-premise system.
- Release of “S4 HANA for Customer Management 1.0” (S4CRM) in last Feb,2018.
- Latest announcement was the launch of “C/4 HANA”, a front office customer experience suite released in Jul’2018.
SAP S/4 HANA for Customer Management 1.0 (S4CRM)
This is simplified version of CRM embedded into S/4 HANA. This add-on is installed on top of on-premise SAP S/4 HANA (Prerequisite is SAP NetWeaver 7.52 with SAP S/4HANA 1709 FPS 01)
Features of the solution:
- Deployed on ABAP NetWeaver
- S4CRM UI is still based on SAP CRM Web Client UI.
- CRM one order framework in the backend
- Same data model for S4CRM and S/4 HANA i.e. S4CRM tables will be part of S/4HANA database scheme
- Seamless integrates with S/4 HANA
- No middleware required between core S/4functions and CRM functions as it shares same HANA database
- Underlying UI is based on SAP Web Client UI
- ABAP development tools are still used for partner development
- Uses S4H key user extension tool instead of AET of CRM
- Web Services and XIF are mostly used for integration with other systems
- Uniform harmonized user experience for both S4CRM and S/4HANA with a new “Belize” UI theme.
Below picture depicts the architecture and the UIs used for core S/4HANA and S/4CRM
Functions supported in S4CRM release 1.0:
- Service Order Management – This function covers entire service life cycle and supports Service order quotes, Service requests, Service request templates, Service orders and execution, service parts and finally Service confirmations.
- Customer Interaction: CRM Interaction center solution embedded into S/4 HANA enables businesses to collaborate and communicate thru various communication channels (phone, chat, e-mail, fax, letter). It supports various customer service specialists (IC agents and Managers) features like agent inbox, alerts, rules, multilevel categorization, knowledge articles and other IC interaction features. This solution covers 45+ typical business process steps of utilities industry and with more to come in the future releases.
SAP’s current road map is mainly focused on bringing more SAP CRM service functionalities into SAP S/4 HANA Customer Management add-on. Below picture depicts the road map of S4CRM.
SAP C/4 HANA is a 4th generation and unified suite of cloud CX solutions on a single trusted data model. With the launch of C/4 HANA, SAP has changed branding of its CX portfolio from SAP Hybris to SAP C/4 HANA umbrella and bucketed all its recently acquired CX solutions (Calliduscloud, Gigya & Core Systems) under C/4 HANA.
For more details, see my blog on C/4 HANA
Let us look at the options available for customers and SAP CRM consultants.
For Customers: In the backdrop of SAP’s road map and strategy to its On-Premise SAP Customers, the future state of CRM landscape would be C/4 HANA integrated with back-end S/4 HANA solution. Partners and Consultants need to be very careful in planning the end state CRM solutions based on the tactical and strategic road map of their clients.
The transformation path from the traditional SAP landscape to future state of digital solutions is given below.
For Consultants: In the recent past, SAP has created some sort of confusion within the SAP CRM eco-system particularly among partners/consultants in communicating their CRM strategy. A single on-premise CRM system which was offering all verticals and horizontals of CRM solutions (including successful TPM and utilities industry solutions) has split into multiple on-premise, cloud solutions with varied back-end technologies and architectures in the digital space. New technology trends (SMAC – Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud), deployment options like on-premise, cloud, hybrid solutions and frequent renaming/re-branding of these solutions (from CEC to Hybris and now to C/4 HANA) have further added to this confusion.
In this context, it would be a challenge for consultant to stay focused and choose the road map for their career. Though the line between functional and technical roles is diminishing, i assume it is still relevant for SAP CRM world due to the various back-end technologies used for C/4 HANA products.
Below are some of the options
CRM Functional Consultants can:
- continue working in SAP CRM on-premise till 2025 & beyond (?)
- embrace and upgrade their skill set in the new age digital C/4 HANA suite, as it is the obvious choice within SAP
- acquire knowledge and proficiency in 2 or more products of C/4 HANA (ex: Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud)
- gain knowledge of S/4 HANA Customer Management
Compared to functional folks, CRM Technical Consultants are better positioned and they can:
- continue working in SAP CRM on-premise till 2025
- work in S4CRM as custom developments in S4CRM is still based on SAP CRM Web Client UI technology.
- continue working in ABAP development tools as S4H and S4CRM still uses the same development tools
- learn SAP Cloud Application Studio for partner development to work in new age digital products like Sales Cloud and Service Cloud products (C4C)
- leverage their ABAP skills to work with products built on ABAP Stack like Marketing Cloud and Hybris billing etc.,
Hope this blog provides some insights and helps CRM consultants in planning their career.