Customer relationship managementSAP is seeking to disrupt the CRM marketplace with its formal introduction of a new suite of applications, SAP C/4HANA. These will assist enterprises serve and retain customers.

SAP also announced its SAP HANA Data Management Suite, a data management solution which enables its customers to turn “data sprawl into business value”.

Bill McDermott
Bill McDermott

The announcement was made by SAP CEO Bill McDermott at the SAPPHIRE NOW conference. “SAP was the last to accept the status quo of CRM and is now the first to change it. The legacy CRM systems are all about sales; SAP C/4HANA is all about the consumer.

“We recognize that every part of a business needs to be focused on a single view of the consumer. When you connect all SAP applications together in an intelligent cloud suite, the demand chain directly fuels the behaviours of the supply chain.


SAP C/4HANA is an integrated offering designed to modernize the sales-only focus of legacy CRM solutions. It emerges from SAP’s acquisitions of:

  • Hybris
  • Gigya
  • CallidusCloud.

SAP now ties together a variety of solutions to support all front-office functions. SAP lists these as including:

  • consumer data protection
  • marketing commerce
  • sales
  • customer service.

The SAP C/4HANA suite integrates with SAP’s business applications portfolio, most notably the SAP S/4HANA ERP suite. This combination of assets offers:

  • machine learning capabilities, via SAP Leonardo
  • the new SAP HANA Data Management Suite (see below).

Expanding its customer service solutions offerings, SAP also announced it has acquired Switzerland-based Coresystems AG to improve its field-service customer experience, especially in the manufacturing, energy, high-tech and telecommunications industries. The Coresystems’ platform service:

  • provides real-time scheduling for customer-service requests
  • uses artificial intelligence-powered crowd-service technology.

This acquisition broadens the service technician pool to include company employees, freelancers and industry partners. The objective is to assign the most suitable technician(s) to each call by considering  expertise, location and availability of the individual service expert.

SAP HANA Data Management Suite

All systems rely on data. The challenge facing companies today is distributed data — data that is not just in transactional systems but scattered across:

  • products
  • machines
  • locations
  • people.

According to SAP, this data needs ingestion and preparation if it is to become made enterprise relevant. SAP has designed its HANA Data Management Suite to make it easier for enterprises to turn massive amounts of data — both structured and unstructured — into valuable, usable knowledge.

Irrespective of where the data is, the SAP HANA Data Management Suite will help customers improve the potential of their data “safely, simply and efficiently”. In this way enterprises will gain visibility and control of their highly distributed data.

What does this mean

These announcements come on hard on the heels of the EU’s recent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into force on May 25. The regulatory change has caused both SAP and businesses to review all their customer data. CRM implementations are particularly exposed.

While many enterprises will welcome a new, more embracing, approach to CRM and one which moves beyond just sales interactions, they will also face the delay and expense of moving to SAP C/4HANA. This is unlikely to come cheap. Balancing this, if SAP has done it development well, customer enterprises should be able to assure themselves that they can rely on SAP to satisfy ongoing GDPR concerns and actions. This alone may be sufficient to spur an early uptake.

The logical relevance of SAP HANA Data Management Suite is straightforward. Whether it will add to what enterprises already possess will need careful consideration.


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