Last updated: All eyes on the future of connecting customer and business data at Sapphire

All eyes on the future of connecting customer and business data at Sapphire


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Since the keynote presentation at SAP’s flagship event (Sapphire), a lot of customers and partners have been asking us to delve into the details of the story told on stage.

Keynote addresses are great ways to inspire customers, announce new features, and set up demand for new products — but there’s only so much you can cover in a few minutes, so I’m going a bit deeper regarding the technology and processes we saw during this four-minute section, which you can also view below:

Massive opportunity or huge problem: Connecting supply, demand, and customer satisfaction when a product goes viral

During the keynote, our CMO Julia White walked the audience through the story of a fashion company grappling with what appears to be either a massive opportunity or huge problem: a pair of sustainably sourced jeans has gone viral on Tik Tok, driving up demand.

Customers are clamoring for an extremely limited supply of pink jeans and the company – Trilogy – has some decisions to make.

Image of pink jeans showing an online catalog view of the product.
The pair of pink jeans that went viral, created for our demo scenario.

Obviously, every company would love the opportunity to see one of their products go viral on social media, introduce thousands of new customers to their brand, and grow revenue without adding marketing expense.

However, creating a lot of sudden demand for a product in limited supply can also create lots of frustrated customers, snarl supply chains, and be highly disruptive.

How can an enterprise work through a sudden demand spike by bringing together the back-end of manufacturing and supply chain processes with the front end of customer engagement?

Connecting every customer and data moment for business agility and growth

During the Sapphire keynote, the power of a connected enterprise and 360 view of potential jeans buyer was on full display.

Understanding your customer and your operational data from systems like returns management, consent and identity preferences, and inventory are required to solve for a great customer experience and profitable bottom line.

For the Trilogy scenario, previously disconnected customer data from across the enterprise was shown in a single view that would be accessible for retail store employees in a point-of-sale system. With a holistic understanding of the consumer, more personalized interactions and offers can be made in real-time, and options to cross-sell and upsell are immediately visible.

This view of the customer includes:

  • Their identity
  • Privacy preferences
  • Recent marketing interactions
  • Loyalty points
  • Recent commerce purchases
  • Lifetime value score
Image of SAP Customer 360 product page showing the overview page.
Customer 360 view in SAP Customer Data Platform.

Search “customer 360” on Google, and you’ll find literally hundreds of companies promoting the idea of aggregating data to give brands a “single source of truth” for customer data.

It’s not a new idea.

Marketers have been trying to unify customer data for the purposes of better personalization for decades. Seeing such a view is always exciting because it shows the power of unified data and suggests the possibilities of operating as a customer-centric organization, where each line of business – commerce, sales, service, and marketing – can activate the insights they get from a rich profile to create better outcomes and more engagement.

But, what about the backend and operational data?

In the scenario given at Sapphire, Trilogy needs to answer a number of different questions:

  1. Do they sell out of their remaining stock, satisfy existing orders, and take the win?
  2. If they decide to ride the viral wave, can they even produce enough jeans to satisfy customer demand?
  3. If so, can they deliver on time?
  4. And – of course – can they do it all profitably?
Image of data from the SAP Analytics Cloud.
Data from Data Warehouse Cloud visualized in SAP Analytics Cloud.

The keynote envisioned and displayed the kinds of simulations a company like Trilogy would run to get these answers by taking all the manufacturing, delivery, and supply chain data and bouncing it against financial ledger and marketing spend data stored in a data warehouse  – and showed the single business view in SAP Data Analytics Cloud.

While not as hip-sounding as “customer 360,” this is where all of data needed to render mission critical business decisions lives.

An image of a simulation cockpit of business scenario modeling.
Simulation cockpit showing business scenario modeling.

We ran some scenario-planning in the demo, and Trilogy discovered that they had enough sustainable material to spin up another manufacturing run for the jeans, that they could deliver them within a reasonable timeframe – and they could still do it profitably, even if they offered new customers free shipping if they pre-ordered and waited for delivery.

These backend business decisions could then manifest themselves in direct actions in customer experience endpoints:

  • Campaigns and ads for the jeans could temporarily be paused until the supply chain could catch up

  • “Pre-order now” buttons could be added to e-commerce sites

  • Point-of-sale systems could be updated with free shipping offers and updated delivery dates

Our story wasn’t just focused on the front end of data unification, but also backend of business processes and the magic that can happen when you can connect the two together.

This is what we think of as enterprise-strength customer data management, where brands can go beyond delivering the next-best action or offer to customers and deliver the next best dollar of revenue and profitability.

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