SAP Sets Stage for Post-GDPR CRM and Enterprise Data Management

SAP's new C/4HANA solutions suite helps businesses cater to their customers without resorting to "creepy" user data collection and management practices.


ORLANDO, Fla.—Kicking off the SAPPHIRE 2018 conference here on June 5, Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP, called SAP HANA the "soul of SAP" during his opening remarks. Since its launch in 2010, the in-memory database has reinvigorated the German software provider's business and introduced its customers to the possibilities of real-time computing.

Now, in the new SAP C/4HANA customer relationship management (CRM) solutions suite, or collection of customer experience (CX) products, the technology is being enlisted to help SAP's enterprise customers engage with their own customers and consumers in a marketplace that is not only teeming with savvier and more cynical shoppers, but is now operating under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the European Union's tough new data privacy law.

SAP C/4HANA incorporates built-in security and privacy-enhancing capabilities, helping businesses comply with various compliance schemes and avoid breaches of trust that can sour customer relationships and affect sales. Trust, after all, is "the ultimate human currency," McDermott asserted, and once lost, enterprises face an uphill battle regaining it.

Alex Atzberger, president of SAP Customer Experience, put it more candidly, saying that "customers are done with creepy. Don't be creepy."

Company executives showed how SAP C/4HANA enables the less-creepy enterprise, by modernizing CRM and shifting from experiences that are focused on landing a sale to practically the exclusion of everything else, to customer sales and services processes that balance user privacy with insight-filled records offering a 360-degree view of a customer.

With SAP C/4HANA, businesses can keep consent-driven profiles on their customers—so far SAP's technology has enabled 1.3 billion such profiles, Atzberger revealed during an executive panel—integrating sales histories, internet of things (IoT) data, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver personalized sales and marketing services that respect customers' data privacy choices.

SAP also announced on June 5 that it had acquired Coresystems, a provider of field-service and workforce management solutions. Based in Switzerland and serving the manufacturing, energy and telecommunications industries, Coresystems uses a crowdsourced, AI-enabled approach to scheduling customer service requests in real time.

SAP envisions using Coresystems' intellectual property help customers extend their service technician pools beyond in-house experts. By tapping into an expanded supply of industry partners, and even freelancers, businesses can help their industrial and technology customers solve problems faster by assigning the best person for the job based on qualifications, location and other factors.

"Coresystems' investments in using AI to prepare the technician and the mobile experience for the technician, subcontractor or freelancer complement SAP's investments in integrating back office functions such as purchasing and inventory with the field," noted Jim Robinson, Research Director of Field Service Management at Gartner. 

"Capabilities such as freelancer onboarding, multi-lingual extensible forms and integration with digital field service support tools for collaboration are important because the first technician to arrive on site often needs the help of more senior resources that are remote."

SAP HANA Data Management for Unified Enterprise Data Services

Building on the SAP Data Hub launch from 2017, the company wants to further help businesses wrangle their big data, impose tighter data governance controls and derive more value from it with the new SAP HANA Data Management Suite.

The solution is based on four existing components: SAP Data Hub, the SAP HANA data platform, SAP Cloud Platform Big Data Services and the SAP Enterprise Architecture Designer Web application. Combined, they orchestrate data services, contain data sprawl, and create a unified, centralized and secure data repository that is imbued with intelligence, which businesses can then use as the basis for tailored application experiences and analytical purposes.

Ultimately, the aim is to provide a common data model for enterprises that can handle all types of business information from various sources without time-consuming and resource-intensive data movement operations and without drawing the ire of regulators and enterprise compliance teams.

"Once the data has been captured and processed, it becomes trustworthy, and only then can it be used for analytical and computing purposes," stated Greg McStravick, president of Database and Data Management at SAP, in a June 5 announcement. "The elegance of SAP HANA Data Management Suite is in combining large volumes of data outside of core systems. It's designed to allow computation on data at the point where it resides without having to replicate it."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...