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Key Insights from Our Annual Customer Technical Advisory Board

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of taking part in the Customer Technical Advisory Board (CTAB) meeting ahead of this year’s massive SAP Customer Experience Live event in Barcelona.

Let’s check out some of the key takeaways.

Franklin Covey Highlights Personalization Risks and Rewards

During the CTAB, we were first treated to a presentation from Blaine Carter, CISO for Franklin Covey, a leading provider of of time management training and assessment services for organizations and individuals. Blaine discussed the topic of data protection and privacy as it relates to personalized customer experiences. He highlighted how his company transformed from a traditional physical goods producer to a wholly digital enterprise by focusing on their core values: convenience and comprehensiveness. By using permission-based customer data to inform recommendations and even curriculum for the company’s online education offerings, Franklin Covey has grown into a true powerhouse of digital learning content.

Blaine also conjured the creepier side of personalization with the example of how the Chinese government currently uses millions of cameras to “profile” its citizens without their permission, then issues rewards and punishment for those that rank the highest or lowest on what it calls a “trust score.” It made for a perfect juxtaposition of the right and wrong way to handle personal data.

What Customers Are Saying about SAP Customer Data Cloud

After Blaine’s talk, members from SAP Customer Data Cloud product, product marketing, solution architecture and expert services teams broke out into roundtable sessions to discuss both the challenges and successes our clients have experienced over the past year. Here are a few highlights that really stood out to me.

Global Login

When we asked our clients about their near- and far-term innovation plans, one element that consistently arose was that, across the board, their customer bases are changing in dramatic ways as the global digital marketplace evolves. Not only are consumers becoming more geographically diverse, but they’re also travelling more regularly, and to regions they hadn’t often visited or worked from before.

During our session, we confirmed that this overarching trend toward a more globalized citizenry is driving a strong demand for our upcoming global login feature, planned for release by Q2, 2019. This is how we will help our clients smooth customers’ journeys as they engage across borders, while addressing an ever-expanding list of regional data privacy requirements.

Security for Customer Identities

New security technologies – face, iris, and voice recognition, increasingly complex biometrics, and most recently the concept of digital identity on the blockchain – are beginning to help organizations address the challenges of protecting the data of increasingly mobile and digitally savvy customers. The path that SAP Customer Data Cloud is taking in this regard is aimed at setting our clients up for success in this new age of data protection, and this means recognizing both our current strengths as well as our shortcomings as a provider.

Deeper Client Engagement

Our customer success team does a great job of engaging clients on a quarterly basis to tell them about new features and functions as they become available, and that will of course continue. However, we also recognize that there is an opportunity to regularly engage with clients on a deeper, more technical and strategic level, to ensure they understand not only what new features we’re planning or building, but why, when and how they should consider implementing them on their innovation roadmaps.

To illustrate the reasoning behind this approach, Director of Global Expert Services, Alex James, told the clients on hand: “Not everyone will read release notes or announcements, and it’s in our own interest for you guys to get the most benefit out of our platform. If you don’t know about something new, and we see that it can benefit you, we should be reaching out to you.”

I added some findings from our breakout, including suggestions for deeper, more-prescriptive documentation elements, and knowledge sharing through developer and user communities. I also drove home the point that we can help our clients go beyond simply turning customers from anonymous to known, to build a complete and actionable view of customers. Whether that is achieved through the use of cutting-edge AI and machine learning technologies, or simply through best-practice marketing, sales, services and product strategies, it is our mission and our charter to enable our clients to achieve their absolute maximum potential when using our products.

I can attest to the fact that this kind of “not if, but how” approach to customer success has long been in our DNA as Gigya and will only improve as part of SAP, with access to a much larger pool of resources and knowledge.

The Buzz on Customer Data Management

Interesting conversations about customer data sprung up throughout the afternoon. For instance, we discussed the vital ability to provide consistent multi-brand digital experiences while still understanding who each customer is, especially around issues of their consent and permissions. The topic of protection for consumers came up in various contexts, including the best way to provide data security to customers without adding undue friction to their journeys. Also, several threads on how we might improve our platform revolved around gaining better visibility and understanding of the data that our clients are collecting, and how to use it in an effective yet responsible way.

Overall, it was a session jam-packed with insights. We all came away with more clarity on how we can further deliver on our promise as a trusted partner to our clientele.


After the SAP Customer Data Cloud session concluded, many of us headed over to listen to a presentation by Adrian Nash, head of product for SAP Customer Data Cloud. He covered how SAP intends to integrate data from the C/4HANA suite of cloud customer experience solutions into master data management and ERP solutions, including the SAP S/4HANA in-memory back end. While this is an SAP-wide initiative, our core functionality around managing customer identity, consent, preference and profile data puts our products at the center of how the larger SAP organization is approaching this initiative.

In an in-depth, 40-minute presentation that generated plenty of interesting questions from the audience, Adrian made the case for why there is a clear call for businesses to find a better, more centralized way to move data around today’s immensely complex technology stacks. Importantly, this applies both to the front office, where end-user customer experiences are born, as well as the back office, where a multitude of complex business processes must be governed.

First, he gave a brief overview of market trends and the history of SAP Customer Data Cloud from Gigya. Adrian then laid out a high-level diagram of how SAP is working toward a fully connected enterprise. The goal is to create a common data layer that will allow information collected directly from consumers and business partners, including their consent and preferences, to be centrally governed and orchestrated across the enterprise without sacrificing data persistence for individual solutions. The initiative aligns closely with the “intelligent enterprise” mission championed by SAP CEO Bill McDermott, to drive real business intelligence all the way from supply through demand.

Check Back Tomorrow!

This was a whirlwind day of insight and discovery. Everyone learned and had a great time connecting. Isn’t that what great customer relationships are all about?

The best part is we’re just getting started. Stay tuned to this channel for exclusive SAP Customer Experience Live coverage over the next two days!

By Ratul Shah

Gigya has updated its Privacy Policy as Gigya, Inc. has been acquired by SAP America, Inc. and Gigya has updated the information regarding how we collect and use your Personal Data. You can see the updated Privacy Policy here.