SAP will unleash a suite of Hybris tools designed to shake up how businesses use customer relationship management (CRM) software by integrating front-end platforms with back-office systems.
The announcement appears to be a challenge to the CRM products offered by Salesforce, which just happens to be showcasing new products and strategies at Dreamforce in San Francisco.
SAP is touting its portfolio of new Hybris CRM tools as a way for businesses to link back-office e-commerce operations and data with customer-focused sales and marketing activity.
The company claimed that this will enable "in-the-moment" customer profiling, digital commerce and community development in real time thanks to the HANA platform providing an in-memory back-end database management system to which Hybris tools can connect.
Appearing to aim a slight at Salesforce, SAP chief executive Bill McDermott said that companies can no longer rely on costly CRM systems that keep data in silos that prevent data-driven customised e-commerce experiences for customers.
"Legacy cloud-based CRM technologies create business complexity because their foundations predate the rise of social media and mobility," he said.
"Companies today need innovative, integrated solutions that simplify the front office, making them easy to do business with and fostering greater customer engagement."
SAP claimed that companies are becoming increasingly digital, and can no longer use CRM systems that focus only on marketing, sales and service automation, and instead need to connect with other companies' data.
Jamie Anderson, senior vice president of marketing at SAP Hybris, explained at a breakfast briefing attended by V3 that traditional CRM systems have been about attracting and pushing customers down a sales funnel rather than trying to engage them with the products or services they want using insights gleaned from data across a business's e-commerce operations.
"It's not fill the funnel and then a customer drops out of the end. It's not linear," he said, noting that more one-to-one personalised interactions are needed to win customers, particularly with technology-savvy millennials.
The data needed to fulfil such interactions can commonly be found in enterprise resource planning systems and databases, coincidentally SAP's main area of business.
SAP is positioning its new Hybris toolset as a way of creating more personalised mobile and web commerce experiences for a company's customers.
This means in practice that a salesperson can approach a customer equipped with contextual data on previous purchases, whether they have any problems with the company and their current purchase needs.
The new Hybris suite will include the Profile tool that provides a dynamic profile of a business's customers by harvesting customer interactions, behaviour and contextual data, and allowing companies to take action on the insights such data can provide.
Users of the Profile feature will be able to add data to the customer profile to offer fresh options when a customer visits an online shop.
SAP claimed that the Profile will make CRM less a means for managing and recording the activity of a salesforce and more about interacting with customers based on data that allows sales people and automated systems to offer more engaging product or service propositions.
Another tool being added to Hybris is Customer Experience, which uses a dynamic content management system to tailor an e-commerce website to deliver content that can adapted for viewing across multiple devices, from desktops and smartphones, to tablets and wearables.
The final part of the new Hybris suite is SAP Hybris as a Service, which puts the capabilities of Hybris on the front end of the HANA Cloud Platform, allowing the effective merger of core business data and systems with CRM software all delivered as a cloud-based service.
Throughout the briefing event, SAP appeared to be throwing down the gauntlet to Salesforce, a market leader in the CRM sphere.
However, a partnership between Salesforce and Sage has seen the company offer Sage Live, which already helps to break down the wall between back- and front-office systems, meaning that it may have stolen the march on SAP's Hybris strategy.
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