In our series on Digital Adaptation, one of the things we discuss is the importance of the digital experience, and in this series, we try to shed light on what that means in the SAP world – the SAP Customer Experience. The digital experience is talked and written about as the deciding factor in business these days. We also talked about how the consumerization of IT has raised our expectations and blurred the distinction between our business and social experiences. If the “experience” is as significant as everyone says it is, how do you achieve it? Can’t you just buy the latest and greatest technologies? In other words, can’t you buy your way in? Well, maybe. However, there’s more to creating an excellent SAP customer experience. You must tie together the back end and the front end while leveraging insights by gathering, manipulating and analyzing the biggest of big data. The good news is that SAP users probably already have the technology in place to do it, but like most companies are short of resources that can help.
As a reminder we defined digital adaptation as the ability to predict, or perceive, quickly evolving business needs, and adjust through new combinations of technology, process, and workforce management. We also said it requires the use of new technologies; a willingness to adopt less familiar methods and the utilization of innovative workforce models. The goal is to create faster, more flexible solutions that simultaneously exceed user and consumer expectations while keeping competitors on their heels. However, we acknowledge that companies can neither afford, and do not need, to continually acquire new technology and dispose of the “old.” There are trusted vendors whose technology has helped us come so far and whose technology can provide the backbone for our digital endeavors. SAP is one of these so let’s see how the technology can help on the CX side with a little adaptation in three areas:
- First, the SAP customer experience is clearly important. SAP is attacking the problem from both ends, as was made clear at this year’s Sapphire Conference in June. According to Dom Nicastro’s Jun 18, 2018 article “Takeaways from SAP’s Sapphire Now” in CMSWire “The traditional database-management, ERP, back-end enterprise software billionaire giant companies are taking on customer experience (CX) and the front-end.” This is true when you consider SAP’s acquisitions of companies Hybris (commerce), Gigya (customer identity management) and CallidusCloud (sales performance management and configure-price-quote). However, for as much noise as SAP has made at the front end, they already have the expertise in the back end.
- Second, an understanding that the fundamentals of crafting a great SAP digital experience is not just about what you see. It is about keeping your promises, which in the modern world means being able to deliver what you promised when you promised it. You need to seamlessly fuse the supply chain in the back end to the SAP customer experience in the front end, and that’s about leveraging data. One of the keys to a creating and maintaining a satisfying (and differentiated) customer buying experience is the ability to harvest meaningful data. This can be achieved by leveraging SAP Business Objects for BW/HANA Analytics., SAP Gateway APIs for Fiori, and Personas technologies for streamlined UX. The digital footprints left by the modern customer provides insights into habits and preferences. These footprints enable your talented people to better shape that experience encouraging customers to return leaving even more of those digital footprints as their loyalty grows. Once more, Dom Nicastro emphasizes this as one of the essential takeaways from Sapphire. “SAP’s big play this year at its conference was the front-end meeting the back-end for complete customer experiences. That’s what marketers strive for, right? Complete customer journeys from purchase intent to actual purchase and post-product success and support.”
- Third, what does that say about SAP’s current technology, roadmap, and your investment? Does this mean you have to invest in all the shiny new front-end technologies to adapt in the digital world? Well, maybe, and maybe not. Digital Adaptation isn’t about chasing the shiny new toy. It is about being able to look inside your existing business to liberate new enterprise and find new business models. It’s also about being smart about your current technology investments and leveraging them as much as you can. Only a small percentage of SAP users are on the latest versions or upgraded to the newest systems like S/4HANA or Leonardo. Therefore, most SAP customers rely on Basis, ABAP, function expertise, and improved business processes to adapt their systems to the digital economy. We encourage you to look at everything from SAP’s machine learning capabilities within Leonardo, to the new HANA Data Management Suite. You should also be looking at how you leverage SAP’s heritage in the back office (to help you deliver on the front end promises) and business intelligence technologies (so you can analyze and interpret the meaning of those digital footprints) by using the SAP NetWeaver Development Tools and SAP BW/BI platform to streamline and maximize the performance of your business transactions. While SAP has made strategic acquisitions in front office technologies, they continue to provision and integrate robust back-office expertise and technologies with the data management and intelligence tools they have perfected over the last 15 years, like SAP Gateway and Ariba. As Kevin Cochrane, chief marketing officer for SAP Hybris made clear at Sapphire, “SAP’s main competitive advantage is its ability to connect the back and front office. That will require the use of existing technologies as opposed to going on a buying spree in new technologies only.”
The importance of partnering was a big topic of conversation at Sapphire. Partnerships at the enterprise level in the SAP world have become more critical, more complex and require more than just technical and functional expertise. Maintaining the current while planning (and delivering) the future presents unique challenges. It demands partners not only with proven skills but that offer expertise in modern methods as well as innovative delivery models. No one can go it alone, and partnering and outsourcing models that worked in the past are proving incapable of delivering that singular SAP customer experience demanded by the digital world. You must squeeze all the value you can out of your current technologies while making smart investments in new technologies. While maximizing the use of existing technologies, you need partners to secure the present (supporting current systems) or help deliver the future (that SAP digital experience). These partners need to be digitally capable, technologically competent, and culturally creative. To learn how we can help you with your SAP challenges contact us at SAPinquiry@ruralsourcing.com.