Data Is the New Oil: Harness More to Enhance the Value Chain

Bertram Schulte SAP

SAPPHIRE Now was a big success. It showcased why and how customer experience is turning into the new currency for digital sales. Better the experience, longer the customer engagement. With the coming of age for AI and Machine Learning technologies in sales and marketing, businesses have truly understood the real-power of engrossing customer experience. Innovations in CRM, Marketing Automation, and data analytics are moving at a faster pace, but not the data that feed into them. To better understand how SAP Commerce Cloud can benefit sales and marketing teams with refined data and contextual insights on customers, we spoke to Bertram Schulte, Chief Digital Officer, SAP.

Advice to sales teams looking for empowering connected, omnichannel commerce and intelligent experiences at the POS

First, sales organizations can no longer work in a vacuum – every customer touchpoint must be contextual, integrated and intelligent.

Second, focus on putting your customer experience above all other business metrics.

Revenue generation is vital to the health and success of any and every business – and customer experience is the key to driving that revenue generation. When you break down organizational barriers, you can deliver improved, connected customer buying journeys. Ultimately, this results in more leads generated, more leads converted and less customer turnover.

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Delivering conversations at scale to customers

Digital is our path to deliver conversations at scale to our customers, but it also requires a laser sharp focus to be successful. Case in point: at SAP, we want to engage not only with our top 2,000 CIOs but also with roughly 2,000,000 developers that work for them. Therefore, designing an engagement experience that successfully delivers these conversations at scale is of utmost importance at SAP, and it includes three essential layers:

  • Self-service experience – the design of simple experiences in a self-service fashion, this layer helps the customer to discover and transact on his or her own.
  • Machine learning chatbots – for cases with unanswered or very specific or simple questions, this layer serves answers in real time.
  • The human factor – no matter how digital the world becomes, there will always be questions that require a human or exceptional process. This layer improves the way our front-line individuals are enabled to provide real, immediate service to our customers.

SAP’s New Digital Experience

As stated above, every customer starts with a consistent self-service experience that offers simple but impactful processes. Our products and the buying behaviors of our customers are changing.

Nearly 80 percent of our customers want digital access for an even better customer experience – one with more transparency and a streamlined path to purchase. We have created as the one-stop shop for customers to discover, try, buy and use SAP and partner offerings in one centralized location.

Prior to SAP’s new digital experience, was primarily a branding website where customers could research the solutions they were considering for purchase, gather information, and then navigate to another location to complete their purchase. With these enhancements to, we have removed these multiple steps and locations for purchasing, to offer our customers simplified access to engage with and purchase from SAP and partners. has become transactable, with purchases only requiring a couple of mouse clicks.

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Building The Path to Digital Mastery 

In the digital world, the whole company comes together at the customer touchpoint with the expectation of real-time. To deliver this, companies must connect the front-office with everything in the back-office and make it available in real-time to the customer. This means many broken down silos and a completely new level of agility. This is also, why we believe the future of CRM is our new C/4HANA – which is set out to do exactly this: Bring the customer together with every (relevant) corner of the business.

 The core tenets of SAP C/4HANA

SAP C/4HANA combines our core tenets – all running on SAP Cloud Platform – to deliver the refocused, end-to-end intelligent customer experience. These core tenets include:

  • Connecting all customer touch points within an organization with omnichannel commerce
  • Bridging the back and front office – linking demand chain to supply chain
  • Offering a customer data management platform based on consent-driven profile information to establish trust and loyalty
  • Incentivizing and arming sales teams with insights to deliver better buying experiences
  • Delivering tailored and individualized experiences – before and after the first sale

These guiding principles give our customers the complete, modern platform they need to deliver better buying experiences – tailored and individualized – to win business and gain lifetime customers. By connecting all touchpoints, our customers have better insights to intelligently engage their customer base and exceed expectations.

The Current State of Digital Transformation

There is no single, homogeneous state; we see customers at many different stages of digital transformation. While some start with the foundation, others have speedboats that optimize isolated, existing processes. The next level is that customers start to re-think completely existing processes. This happens usually in one corporate function alone – e.g. how to close books faster or how to improve factory productivity.

The more advanced customers are looking across the company, how the whole value chain up to the commercial model can be re-invented. Our software products offer opportunities for every stage and with Leonardo, we have the product and services to help customers find the right levers and approaches.

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The major pain points for businesses in putting a 360-degree focus on customers

Two main pain points for driving a 360-degree customer focus are making the organizational shift from a product-centric to a consumer-centric company and breaking down internal walls between departments. Today’s customer-driven economy means shifting away from orientations that “putting customers first” is solely the responsibility of the sales department. This starts mostly on the data layer that is too fragmented physically and semantically across the organization and makes it hard to create one connected experience for the customer in real time. Agility and fluidity between the different parts of the organization is mostly hampering.

Preparing for a disruptive sales ecosystem

It’s no secret AI is disrupting sales and marketing functions within traditional SaaS platforms. This will continue to be the case since AI is the way to truly capitalize and gain value out of the vast amount of data available.

Previously, individual sales reps tailored information for us, nurturing every customer relationship. But since we now are trying to interact with every developer and user, AI and ML are helping democratize the service. The best preparation for the disruptive sales ecosystem ahead is the redesign of data structures, data flows, and access to data. If data is the new oil: the more that can be harnessed, the more value can be created.

Key Takeaways from SAPPHIRE NOW

The key takeaway for our customers and partners is that the intelligent enterprise is here, and those that do not embrace it will be outperformed by competitors. The intelligent enterprise is the next evolution in digital transformation, enabling businesses to break down silos and create more cohesive, holistic and integrated processes across all business functions. For CRM, it means maximizing resources and data assets to create more personalized, cohesive customer experiences.

On, our customers can access all the SAP and partner offerings they need in one spot, when they need it, making it easier to deliver integrated, seamless experiences and drive successful outcomes.

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