SAP Buys hybris e-commerce Software to Build Its Version of Real Time Customer Management


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Fresh on the heels of yesterday’s blockbuster ExactTarget / deal, SAP today announced acquisition of e-commerce vendor hybris software. Since Salesforce said yesterday that other companies also wanted to buy ExactTarget, it seemed possible that SAP had lost the deal and purchased hybris as a second choice. After listening to the analyst conference call (available at (303) 590-3030 passcode 4623918), I still can’t say.

During their call, the SAP and hybris managers unfairly implied that ExactTarget does nothing but email (without mentioning or ExactTarget by name). But as made clear in its own call yesterday, they were most attracted by ExactTarget’s multi-channel marketing capabilities. It’s possible SAP wanted ExactTarget for the same reasons and would have described it differently had they been the winning bidder.

In any case, SAP did tell a good story: real-time interactions seamlessly presenting customers with consistent information, dialogues, and purchases across all channels, with a central role for the Web. This is certainly the long term goal for most marketers, although few are close to delivering it. As SAP pointed out, it’s a customer-centric view of the world, quite different from the operational focus of traditional CRM. SAP does have some unique assets to support this vision, including back-office systems with sales, inventory, costs, and other data needed to fully inform customer treatments, and the in-memory HANA database to make this data immediately available for real-time interactions. I haven’t done enough research to judge whether SAP can effectively combine these pieces, but they’re making the right promises.

Still, I wouldn’t be as dismissive of the Salesforce / ExactTarget combination as the SAP managers. People integrate CRM with back-office systems all the time. You can also build great customer experiences with little or no back office integration. ExactTarget does have some Web personalization features, although I don’t know how well they’re integrated with other aspects of customer management. Similarly, it has claimed some real-time interaction management, but I don’t know how well it works. What I do know is that Salesforce and ExactTarget have a reasonable idea of what’s needed and the resources to build it. How well and how quickly they execute remains to be seen — but you can say the same for SAP.

Incidentally, the common thread for these acquisitions is the move for both vendors into direct B2C marketing. It’s a big new market for each of them, and makes both much more interesting competitors to IBM, Oracle and Adobe.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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