SAP Customer Experience LIVE 2018 takes place in Barcelona, Spain next week and this has made me think and reflect about the SAP C/4HANA journey so far and how we got here. I’ve been implementing SAP CRM implementations for a long time, but we’re in a very different place now – as opposed to when I first started. The current coming together of the SAP C/4HANA Suite adds much more beyond the individual products. At Keytree, we have direct experience of this value a few years ago – implementing SAP C/4HANA Service & Marketing (Hybris C4C anyone?) for a global fashion company, making the customer the centre of the implementation.

The environment was complex with customer data created and consumed across a wide range of systems and regions. There was also no shortage of complexity, but having a core platform for the customer brought a lot of previously unmanageable processes into the fold, making the external experience easier for the customer. It was also very interesting to listen to the debates about who the customer was, and their relevance across the business but each business area was also focussed on their own functions.

For example, the normal challenge of getting the data to a good enough level to drive credible email marketing campaigns was not shared by customer-facing staff until they had the tools to notice a duplicate customer – they could then see themselves doing their own job, rather than possibly resenting someone else’s need.

Where next for C/4HANA?

The cross-industry nature of the customer is the other strong feature I’ve noticed. Although every industry has differences, the underlying needs often have a lot in common, and so I’ve found myself having very similar conversations about the nature of the customer across companies in fashion, oil and food service, and even across B2B and B2C environments – but although the overlap becomes even greater, so perhaps the latter point makes some sense.

So what next for C/4HANA – once we get into the habit of using the name? Akin to the fashion project I mentioned, there are likely to be more and more projects with a data heart, but with business functionality in one or two areas at the outset, partly to direct the customer data activity, and partly to ensure the full engagement of the business – people often need a short-term benefit to remain enthused.

More broadly, we are seeing a well-established cycle of new things becoming the norm so that a marketing system is expected by a marketing department and so on. Given the dependencies between departments – especially on customer information – this places SAP C/4HANA well to answer such needs.