At the recent SAP hybris 2015 Global Customer Days in Munich, Germany, hybris, an omni-channel customer engagement and commerce vendor, unveiled a number of announcements including its latest application, hybris Marketing. hybris’ vision is to “deliver contextual, consistent and relevant experiences regardless of channel or device throughout the customer journey.”
Following SAP’s affection for three-letter acronyms, the entire hybris suite is referred to as CEC – Customer Engagement and Commerce.
hybris Marketing is a set of omni-channel experience capabilities that, according to Brian Walker, hybris and SAP CEC’s Chief Strategy Officer, “fill a key gap.” Integrated with the hybris Commerce Suite, the platform delivers a single view of the customer enabling companies to contextually interact with their customers based on where those buyers are in their journey. Beyond a single view of the customer, Walker stressed that hybris is the new single source of truth within a company as it delivers a single view of orders, products as well as of customers.
The real news didn’t receive as much glitz and promotion but is more significant —the introduction of hybris’ YaaS.
YaaS stands for “hybris business platform as a Service” and fills the gap between SaaS and Pass in an emerging category called bPaaS (Gartner’s term). YaaS is key not only to hybris’ strategy but also to SAP’s. Unlike previous acquisitions, Bill McDermott, SAP’s CEO, had the good sense to leave this one alone and allow it to draw in SAP resources and expertise as needed.
YaaS is a new business and development platform build on cloud foundry, which offers developers freedom in the programming language they want to use (i.e., Java, node.is, Ruby or Grails). It enables hybris/SAP to be truly multi-tenant and offers the market a state-of-the-art micro-service architecture upon which to develop an ecosystem of SaaS applications and services. And that is exactly what hybris and SAP want. They plan and have started to develop on top of YaaS to kick start a marketplace that includes SAP, third party and competitor applications.
Sounds like Force.com, right? That is exactly what YaaS is – SAP’s answer to Salesforce’s Force.com.
The YaaS stack resembles Force.com but is built on a more robust and technologically current architecture and enables developers to get to market faster.
The platform addresses four specific needs: Quickly develop next generation software solutions; enable SAP solution providers to become software vendors; kick start a community of developers and ISVs to accelerate the CEC roadmap; and unlock the $58 Billion SaaS market.
What sets YaaS apart from Force.com is:
- Independence from thebusiness domain
- Independence from devices
- Pre-build business processes
- Non-proprietary that offers freedom of choice in programming languages, underlying database technology and portability of services and applications between cloud infrastructures.
The first set of apps in the exchange will be around customer loyalty, which will natively integrate with existing hybris and SAP applications. YaaS will be available at the end of Q2 2015.
Underlining the viability of YaaS, hybris has developed an innovation lab to showcase what is possible. At the 2015 Global Customer Days event, five use cases were demonstrated. One prototype, the “Smart Wine Shelf,” uses iBeacons to determine a customer’s presence.
Via a simple iOS application, customers are able to establish their personal wine profile by answering a few questions. Once the profile is ready, it can be sent to a nearby wine shelf, which in return will highlight the wines that match the customer’s profile. The value for the retailer lies in obtaining live data on customer behavior.
Another scenario, driven by RFID technology, is called “The Changing Room.” When items labelled with RFID tags are brought into the changing room they are recognized and immediately displayed on a touchscreen that is mounted inside the cabin. This enables the customer to request different sizes, colors and matching accessories that will then be “delivered” by a sales assistant who receives a notification to his phone.
All five prototypes were designed to enhance customer engagement without being creepy about just how much hybris actually knows about you.
Partly based on YaaS, hybris Marketing is positioned as an open ecosystem with Bloomreach, Facebook, Marketo, Sprinklr, and Turn as initial go-to-market partners. Interestingly, when I spoke with these partners, their view of hybris was different. They saw hybris as a commerce platform and a source of new business, not as a co-opetitor in the future.
When challenged on the overlap between hybris Marketing and Adobe, Walker was quick to point out that, “Adobe can provide a single view of the customer but not a 360 degree view and is focused on email and digital marketing.”
He also clarified that Adobe and hybris solve different problems. hybris solves “the challenge of real attribution and retention” and “enables the digital and omni-channel transformation of B2B and B2C companies.”
Reflecting their and SAP’s roots, YaaS turns hybris into a true Cloud/SaaS provider. It enables SAP to keep customers who might otherwise look to Oracle, Salesforce or other cloud vendors. With over 800 customers in 2014, 122 percent year-over-year growth, and 70 percent of hybris’ net new customers in 2014 from the SAP install base, it’s easy to see why SAP is giving hybris autonomy.
If YaaS delivers, it not only lily pads SAP over other vendors but ups the ante on Force.com. YaaS is the tip of the SAP reinvention spear. Without it, a large market that currently lies well beyond SAP’s existing products, customer base and ecosystem will go to competitors like Salesforce.