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SAPPHIRE NOW 2018 – Day One: So You Say You Want a (CX) Revolution?

Lights, camera, action! We’ve wrapped up the first day of SAPPHIRE NOW 2018 here in Orlando, Florida, where the atmosphere was, in a word, electric. An astounding 918 global companies are in attendance, taking in 144 sessions over the next three days, spearheaded by a full-blown “customer experience revolution” initiative that can hardly be considered “business as usual.” As such, one big and bold announcement set the tone for this year’s event.

First, SAP CEO Bill McDermott took to the stage in his inimitable style to fire up a standing-room-only crowd during his opening keynote in the massive First Run Theater venue. McDermott began by talking about how the business world has (and hasn’t) evolved over the last 8 years, highlighting how legacy technology is still holding many companies back.

McDermott acknowledged the tremendous efforts organizations have made over the past decade to acquire and monetize customer data to drive new revenue streams, and that the systems developed to do this continue to evolve in scale and speed. But, according to McDermott, things have changed. Consumers are wary about who is collecting their data and how it is being handled, and regulators are laying down strict regulations to protect them – such as the EU GDPR. In order to move forward, McDermott posited, a new kind of customer engagement strategy is needed by businesses. One that puts the highest premium not on their customers’ data, but on their trust.

This was the overarching concept McDermott used to lead into a bombshell announcement.

“We earn trust in drops and lose it in buckets. It’s no longer a nice-to-have, it’s the cost of doing business.”

– Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP

The big news? McDermott unveiled SAP C/4HANA, as well as new branding that rolls up several SAP Hybris business units and acquired technology providers under a single umbrella called SAP Customer Experience. The intention is to both broaden and simplify SAP Hybris’ previous portfolio and challenge the customer relationship management (CRM) market head-on, with a new, “fourth-generation CRM” solution designed to place the consumer – not the marketer or salesperson – at the heart of everything.

C/4HANA includes Commerce, Marketing, Sales and Service Cloud solutions from SAP Hybris, with service and sales offerings augmented by the recently acquired CallidusCloud and Coresystems, respectively. These four solutions are underpinned by the SAP Customer Data Cloud from Gigya, which brings the customer identity, profile, preference and consent management features and functionality with which SAP intends to differentiate against its competitors, namely, Salesforce.

To amp up the excitement, Bill then brought SAP Customer Experience president Alex Atzberger to the stage to describe the vision, features and business value of the new suite in a passionate and unifying voice.

“I call this a revolution because disappointing customer experiences have led people to revolt,” said Atzberger. “They are exerting their independence and taking charge of relationships with their favorite brands. They don’t think in terms of B2B or B2C. This is the ‘Me2B’ world. The implications are clear: the customer dictates the terms and determines how they interact. If they aren’t happy, they don’t stay.”

In describing the benefits of C/4HANA, Atzberger described how businesses could now manage the complete, end-to-end customer experience from a single platform. By supporting the entire customer journey, – from awareness, to conversion, to long-term advocacy, – this new front office suite aims to modernize CRM by widening its scope far beyond sales operations. It also has the significant advantage of sitting atop SAP’s existing in-memory data platform, S/4HANA, with its powerful capabilities for analytics, AI, machine learning and more.

You can read Alex’s full introduction (and find out how it got its name) here.

What struck me throughout the day, however, is the prominent role the SAP Customer Data Cloud plays in SAP’s customer experience revolution. During his keynote, for example, McDermott said:

“It is essential that we help our customer build a single view built with permission data to have the 360-degree view of the actual customer – trust is the actual human customer.”

As a product marketer for the SAP Customer Data Cloud, née Gigya, this statement sounded awfully familiar to me. It aligns beautifully with our mission. First, we help businesses turn unknown online visitors into known, loyal customers through transparent value-for-information exchanges, to build lasting trust. Our technology also unifies the data collected by our clients into unified, permission-based profiles that can be centrally governed and orchestrated across the enterprise. This all leads to the ability to deliver truly trusted digital experiences to customers.

Later, Alex drove the point home that it was just these kinds of trusted experiences that form the foundation for great customer relationships.

“SAP Customer Data Cloud provides the complete, consent-driven view of the customer and empowers them to see — and consent to — the data that businesses collect and use,” Alex said. “Today, 1.3 billion identities are managed in SAP Customer Data Cloud.”

The afternoon session, entitled “Join the Customer Experience Revolution” further reinforced this message to attendees across multiple industries. Alex led a discussion about how organizations can transform their business models for success in this new era by becoming more customer-centric. Joining him was Lorenz Gan, CIO for New Era Cap Company, and Jeremy Pincus, Head of Global Marketing Services for our customer, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals (GSK). You’d think that these two vastly different organizations – one catering to die-hard sports fans and the other to healthcare providers and the patients they care for – couldn’t have more unrelated business goals, but you’d be wrong!

Alex started the conversation by noting that most of the conversations he’s had with customers recently have centered around customer data.  Customers are asking: “What are you doing with my data?  Why do you have it? And how are you using it?”

Jeremy and GSK are catering to doctors who have grown up in the digital age. And, GSK is working hard to transform their model of marketing and communication for the masses into content that is designed for individual people – using the voice of customer as a tool for convincing and converting. The SAP Customer Data Cloud has helped move the needle in this initiative by enabling GSK to understand more about the needs and preferences of its base of patients and healthcare providers. This, in turn, enables the company to get content to their customers that has more relevance and value to them as individuals, not just broad market segments.

Lorenz and New Era Cap, on the other hand, are just at the beginning of building a direct-to-consumer strategy, after years as an exclusively wholesale business. Lorenz said his company’s biggest differentiator is authenticity for fans, not price. He gave the example of a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan being surfaced New England Patriots content, and the likelihood of that person simply walking away from the transaction in disgust. Adding effective customer data management into his marketing mix allows Lorenz to more accurately identify fans of particular franchises and cater exclusively to their tastes.

Both gentlemen expressed a need to address data privacy issues, and while GSK’s ecosystem is more complex than New Era, this was a top priority for both businesses considering the GDPR.

“SAP Customer Data Cloud is the center of our customer architecture and business models and how we use consent to power our trusted relationships.” -Jeremy Pincus, Head of Global Marketing Services at GSK

A the end of the session, Atzberger introduced the four leaders of each respective cloud offering under SAP Customer Experience / S/4HANA, including our very own Patrick Salyer, and I couldn’t help but feel a swell of pride at our accomplishments over the past year.

To me, this is all further proof that our solution is a big part of helping businesses of all stripes balance two business imperatives: the need for personalization and the need for trust. Through our three integrate cloud products – SAP Customer Identity, SAP Customer Consent and SAP Customer Profile – our 700+ enterprise clients:

  • Securely identify consumers across devices and channels to drive registrations and engagement
  • Manage their permissions and consent across their entire lifecycle
  • Transform data into unified customer profiles based on first-party data that are governed, orchestrated and analyzed from a central and secure environment

What’s Next?

For those of you attending SAPPHIRE this year: did I miss anything? What have you enjoyed the most so far? Ping me @ratul and let me know!

Be sure to check back tomorrow! I’ll have the inside story on two highly-anticipated sessions:

  1. Executives from NASCAR and Maxim Integrated join Patrick Salyer, General manager of the SAP Customer Data Cloud, to reveal how they excite their fan bases with customer data.
  2. GSK joins Rashmi Vittal, SAP Customer Data Cloud’s Head of Marketing, to examine how to engage a diverse, global healthcare audience.

For more information on how the SAP Customer Data Cloud can help your business grow your audience, boost conversions and engagement, foster long-term brand loyalty, and provide a more secure and privacy-friendly digital ecosystem, download our solution brief.

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.