Understanding SAP’s Customer Experience strategy with SAP C/4HANA


2018 marked a major shift in SAP’s positioning with an announcement, at SAPPHIRE 2018, of the rebranding of Hybris’ division into SAP Customer Experience and the C/4HANA suite. A few months following this news, SAP hosted a global Customer Experience event in Barcelona.SAP rolled out a new suite of applications created to increase their market share and shake up the CRM market. The focus was on reinventing CRM by moving from a sales and accounts perspective to customer experience. The portfolio, named SAP C/4HANA, is enriched with applications and services from acquired companies such as Hybris, Gigya, CoreSystems, and Callidus Cloud.

Here is an overview of were SAP stands in the Customer Experience Era.

From a products/services economy to an experience economy

SAP’s emphasis is on the interactions with the customers across all touchpoints, rather than on transactional processes flowing down mechanically to sales. The customer controls its journey and is more educated than ever. Therefore, it’s all about building trusted relationships throughout those moments to give a better experience.

What motivates salespeople and drives them to be at the top of their game is a transparent payout, gamification, sales playbooks, CPQ tools to configure a quote on the fly, and accurate booking forecasts. The acquisition of CallidusCloud definitively blurs the lines between CRMs and ERPs while adding value to the sales customer engagement solution.

After the enforcement of GDPR, following the Cambridge Analytica scandals and consequences on Facebook, no one can consider collecting CRM data in the same way as before. Protecting customer data should be at the center of any customer engagement project.

Unified customer experience with C/4HANA

C/4HANA brings together five separate modules: SAP Marketing Cloud, SAP Commerce Cloud, SAP Sales Cloud, SAP Service Cloud, and SAP Customer Data Cloud. The Customer Experience portfolio is also divided into seven specific domains putting the emphasis on cloud solutions, open source integration, and machine learning.

If the five cloud solutions haven’t changed since SAPPHIRE, adding more functionalities to them dramatically extended the functional range of C/4HANA. Gone are the days when CRM was all about lead to sales order. The connected moments of the C/4HANA suite are split into four stages:

  • Unidentified to identified contacts
  • Lead to Opportunity
  • Quote to Contract (with a new Contract Lifecycle Management module)
  • Fulfillment to Cash (with new revenue recognition and commission modules)

End-To-End experience with the new SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory

CX proponents always want better extensibility, allowing them to create end-to-end customer journeys. The new SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory, a cloud-native extensibility framework to personalize and extend existing SAP applications “fast” aims to do exactly that. It builds on SAP Cloud Platform by adding new capabilities for “seamless connectivity” between applications or complete solutions to your accounts. The SAP Cloud Platform (SCP) plays a key role as an orchestration and integration layer for all these solutions. As a result, project “Kyma” was envisioned as a cloud-native and technology-independent application development framework. This makes software customization easy while leveraging all the benefits of the rapidly evolving cloud-native technology stack. Its mission is to equip enterprise software users with agile, open-source tools to connect, customize and extend any API-enabled application and tailor it to their specific business needs.

Personalized and contextual experience with customer and consent-driven data centralization

SAP also voiced its support for the Open Data Initiative. The SAP C/4HANA suite, as well as SAP Customer Data Cloud, will leverage the Open Data Initiative (ODI) to seamlessly unify customer and consent-driven data from any application that supports the common data model.

ODI also allows the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), giving more capabilities to interpret data to deliver in a personalized and contextualized connected experience to the customer. However, the data is most of the time owned in silos which makes it difficult to get an intimate view of the customer. Having fragmented data implies intermediaries to consolidate, align and merge customer information, multiplying risks of data leaks which can have potentially dramatic effects on a company’s reputation.


By delivering both back-office and front-office solutions, integration orchestration, blockchain, collaboration tools, open data initiatives, and industry-specific solutions, SAP has the ambition to gain a unique position against its main competitors, being the only software editor present across all those items, making the SAP ecosystem a truly holistic offering!

I’m happy to answer any specific questions you might have while reading this article! Feel free to reach out to me: [email protected]

In an upcoming article, I will take a deeper dive on each of the Customer Experience solutions and attributes, part of the SAP Customer Experience division. Stay tuned!

About the author

Christophe Grillot, Solution Director, Customer Experience, Beyond Technologies
Christophe is a seasoned Director of Customer Experience with extensive expertise in the delivery of customer experience and e-commerce integration solutions, as well as logistics projects (SAP SD, SAP MM, SAP WM). He draws on this impressive background and deep knowledge of ERP solutions to develop a strong Customer Engagement internal team and help make Beyond Technologies a reference in deploying C/4HANA solutions.

 Connect with Christophe on LinkedIn



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