Last week I was at the SAP CRM 2014 conference. I've never been to an SAP conference before but I was told that SAP has an interesting play for the marketing cloud space. What I heard and saw in Las Vegas wasn't a competitor limited to marketing clouds, but instead an offering that's a comprehensive enterprise marketing platform.
SAP is charting a course into the CMO's office via strong existing relationships with CIOs and CFOs, who are long-standing customers of SAP's ERP, financials, and supply chain management offerings. Those are mission-critical systems for the companies that use them, much more so than typical marketing systems like digital asset management and social media publishing. What's the top item on every CMO's agenda right now? Driving business results. And marketing has been building stronger relationships with finance and IT in order to gain business intelligence and track operating impact.
But because of those long standing relatinoships, SAP has a perception challenge that it's not a system for marketers. That's where three points of information come into play, under the umbrella of CRM:
- Social media engagement. As pictured above, SAP offers a full suite of products that covers the external and internal aspects of customer engagement.
- Customer service use case. T-Mobile provides a compelling client reference, with SAP driving a 15% productivity increase. This is AFTER T-Mobile had been running with Radian6 + Jive as their customer service solution, citing millions of dollars in cost savings.
- The Adobe - HANA partnership. SAP and Adobe have inked a partnership where SAP will resell the Adobe marketing cloud in conjunction with HANA analytics and Hybris commerce.
Now, point #3 should be a head scratcher when thinking primarily about marketing clouds. The deal might mean that different SAP business units aren't aware of what the others are doing, creating a conflict of interest. Or the companies have discussed and decided that their marketing cloud offerings aren't meaningfully competitive right now. And may never be -- the combined suite creates an offering as comprehensive as Oracle, that can claim to beat Salesforce (point #2), and broader than any point solution (point #1).
When discussing how marketing technology can support critical needs including analytics, omnichannel, and customer experience, it's critical to evaluate solutions from a comprehensive online + offline point of view. SAP has defaulted to an enterprise-level approach to solve these issues, as opposed to focusing solely on the marketing department, which may prove to be a winning strategy in the long run.
As the big vendors are busy integrating their marketing cloud/platform acquisitions, there's still a market for point solutions. Not all brands are ready for an all-in-one solution, whether because of budget, organizational structure, or ability of vendors to deliver on their sales promises. But the strategic positions in market are becoming clearer and the big players are raising the competitive stakes continually higher.