Clash of Titans: Microsoft and SAP weigh in

Clash of Titans: Microsoft and SAP weigh in

A little recap As it has been some time since I published Clash of Titans – Platform Play, the first part of this little series, let me start with a little recap. The business applications market, especially the CRM market, is evolving fast. CRM has morphed from concentrating on transactions to become an enabler of engagements. Engagements in turn result in experiences. And positive experiences are what companies want to achieve. In a digital world this is possible only if companies rely on a foundation, a (technical) platform. Becoming the provider of the dominant technical platform therefore has become the main goal of of the big business software vendors. However, even governing a great technical platform is not enough. Software vendors that want to be successful platform players need to be able to deliver on four areas to succeed: Platform (IaaS/PaaS) Ecosystem Insight Productivity Only if they deliver on all four aspects are ‘platform players’ able to provide their customers with what they need to involve themselves in digital engagements that result in sustainably positive experiences. I will look at how the big four are measuring up in this and the next article of this little series. Microsoft and SAP will be the starters. Then I will look at Oracle and Salesforce. I might conclude with some surprise additions. But let the games begin! Microsoft Microsoft is the (not so, if you look sharply) hidden champion of this game. Actually, I think that Microsoft is the 800 pound gorilla in this game. It is Microsoft’s objective to become the fabric that connects enterprises of all sizes with their stakeholders,...
Clash of Titans – Platform Play

Clash of Titans – Platform Play

A lot has evolved since my Clash of the Titans post that looked into how the big 4.5 (Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, and Adobe) and others are positioning themselves and their platform in the greater CRM arena. First, the commoditization of the business application has accelerated and the vendors’ focus on the underlying platform has increased. CRM, and enterprise software in general, has always been a platform play although this has not always been recognized and sometimes even negated. The obvious reason for it being a platform play is that the creation of positive customer and user experiences need a consistent technical platform. Or else we are ending up in engagements that are fragmented across interactions. This results in inconsistent and poor experiences. So far, so well known. A bit less obvious is the fact that there will be only few dominant platforms. Vendors, who want to become and stay successful on a grand scale need to be one of these few platform providers and attract partners and customers. This is the reason why I consult my customers that one of the very first IT strategy decisions that they need to take is the platform decision. As the article got a little longer this time and as I do not tend to write articles that are as long as dear friend Paull Greenberg’s (maybe I should consider to?) this revisit of the Clash of the Titans will become a two or three piece series, first covering the framework I want to use, the very definition of what I talk of when saying that CRM is a ‘platform play’. The...
SAP C/4HANA! Explosive? Some Questions and some Answers

SAP C/4HANA! Explosive? Some Questions and some Answers

During SAPPhire 2018 SAP announced C/4HANA with quite a fanfare. I covered and analysed this announcement in my post SAPPHIRE 2018 – The Return of the Suite. Sure, C/4HANA marks the return of SAP to the suite, just in another shape than previously known. Instead of combining the pillars of CRM: Marketing, Sales, and Service in one monolithic application it integrates the corresponding clouds into a suite by means of an infrastructure-, service-, and integration layer called SAP Cloud Platform. The SAP Cloud Platform also provides services like IoT and Blockchain, besides numerous additional and less sexy, but necessary ones. The SAP Cloud Platform also enables extensibility of the clouds, be it in-app (‘in cloud’) or as external extensions via the Extension Framework and the (upcoming) Microservices Ecosystem. The SAP Cloud Platform, as well as a number of in-cloud features enable AI and machine learning, exposed as intelligence that is embedded into the various clouds. Plus, the SAP Analytics Cloud – which is not explicitly mentioned as a part of C/4HANA, provides analytics abilities. Fiori as a user interface metaphor enables a consistent user experience. A chat bot infrastructure and the ability to run on all relevant screen sizes with one UI architecture pave the way towards keeping the user experience consistent. The addition of the SAP Customer Data Cloud hints into the direction of providing a customer data hub as a single version of the truth of things customer. As such, the SAP Cloud Platform is a modern reincarnation of SAP Netweaver. Reincarnation, not repetition, as it is ways closer to Hasso Plattner’s ideal of recombining business processes...
Einstein smartens up Salesforce Service Cloud

Einstein smartens up Salesforce Service Cloud

The News A few days ago Salesforce released a new iteration of its Service Cloud Einstein after infusing its artificial intelligence, Einstein, into the Service Cloud in February 2017. This release comes with three major enhancements to the Service Cloud: Einstein Bots for Service Lightning Flow for Service Einstein Next Best Action Einstein Bots for Service is providing the ability to easily configure chat bots that enable instant response to customers and a seamless handoff to customer service agents. Lightning Flow for Service gives companies the ability to automate processes with contextual, step-by-step guidance for fulfilling requests and resolving issues, using a graphical interface. Einstein Next Best Action is delivering intelligent recommendations and offers on any channel to increase customer satisfaction. While Einstein Bots for Service and Lightning Flow for Service are in General Availability since July 11, 2018, Einstein Next Best Actions will remain in a Pilot phase for some more time. The reason for this is that Salesforce wants to be double sure that this functionality is reliable. It needs a good amount of data and a good training set. And Salesforce cannot look into the data. The bots themselves do need to get trained and, once active, take feedback from the service agents. All three features work hand-in-hand. Salesforce uses a credit card scenario to make this point. When a customer goes to the web site for help the chat bot takes over and gathers the necessary contextual information and then escalates the issue to a customer service agent who continues the chat at the position the chat bot exited with all information available. A Lightning...
Here’s why Nimble is so successful

Here’s why Nimble is so successful

The News In the past few weeks there have been two interesting announcements by Nimble. First, on June 14, 2018 Nimble announced a partnership with Velosio, one of the largest Microsoft Dynamics VARs in North America. Velosio and Nimble entered into a global reseller agreement. As a part of this agreement Velosio’s 200 channel partners can purchase, manage and resell Nimble CRM bundled with Microsoft Office 365. Velosio is the latest prominent name in among the growing number of Microsoft/Nimble partners. One week later, on June 20, 2018 Nimble announced a revamp of its application homepage with the Nimble Today page. This dashboard page gives the user a clear and customizable view of their sales pipeline, calendar appointments, tasks and social signals with relationship insights directly embedded in the widgets. As a start the page offers 6 widgets Deals Events Tasks Highlighted Contacts Signals Stage Funnel that can get freely rearranged. The Today Page is also available for iOS users now and will be available to Android users soon. The Bigger Picture The enterprise CRM market is saturated. There are at least 4 tier one players for every major CRM function that are competing for supremacy. Customer demands have evolved from requiring transactional applications to getting high value solutions that allow the delivery of high-end customer (and user) experience. The market itself has morphed from a suite market to a best-of-breed application market, and now to a platform and ecosystem market. In this market it is important to excel in two, maybe three areas: Platform as a Service (PaaS). The platform itself must support current and future technologies that...