Customer Engagement with hybris & SAP
Jennifer Millard
By Jennifer Millard
Blog

Last month SAP announced its successful acquisition of hybris, a recognised leader in commerce and customer engagement. The objective is:

To combine the agile omni-channel commerce solutions of hybris with robust enterprise technology and industry leading in-memory, cloud and mobile innovations from SAP to help facilitate new levels of customer insight and engagement.”

This is an exciting time for organisations looking to engage more effectively with their customers by adopting a multi-channel commerce solution.

We look at how hybris fits in with SAP’s existing commerce offering, Web Channel Experience Management (WCEM), and provide guidance on what points your organisation should consider when evaluating which multi-channel commerce solution is right for you.

Multi-channel customer engagement

hybris provides an “omni-channel” customer engagement solution. Businesses are recognising that they need to find ways of effectively directing customer experience and driving engagement across multiple channels, as we move away from a “push” marketing paradigm to one of personalisation. At a high level, this means enabling sales, service, and marketing processes across multiple channels.

Consumers and customers expect a seamless experience, regardless of the channel, that is consistent with the brand values. The emergence of mobile devices in all their forms has driven a change in customer expectations of how, when and where they want to interact with organisations. Being able to place and track purchases through any medium, at any time, from any location has become an expected basic requirement, with customers increasingly expecting a fully personalised experience.

What is hybris?

hybris is a provider of a commerce platform based on open standards, that provides an “omni-channel” solution for both business-to-business and business-to-client customers.

How will hybris fit into the SAP landscape?

This is a key question for organisations looking to make an investment in improving customer experience across digital channels.

SAP WCEM

SAP’s existing commerce portfolio primarily includes Web Channel Experience Management (WCEM). A relatively new product, the WCEM 1.0 solution was released in April 2012, with WCEM 2.0 coming into general availability in the fourth quarter of last year and WCEM 3.0 released on general availability on 29th May 2013.

Previous SAP customer self-service, internet sales and web channel solutions were centrally provisioned, meaning that the website functionality, product catalogue management and integration functionality were all handled within the same system. The WCEM solution was designed to segregate functionality to improve flexibility, scalability and performance; WCEM handles the website functionality, product catalogue management is provided through Master Data Management (MDM), and integration is managed through Process Integration (PI). Alternatively, for catalogue management there is the option of using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) with Search and Classify (TREX).

Figure 1: WCEM from a customer perspective

Click to enlarge

hybris

hybris offers a multi-channel commerce solution that provides modularised web content management, search and merchandising capability, master data management and order management capability.

Some elements to the hybris solution are relatively new; hybris previously had a strong relationship with Endeca, but severed this when Endeca was acquired by Oracle. hybris then went on to acquire iCongo in 2011 and redeveloped its solution accordingly.

The SAP press release indicates the expertise and direction that SAP plans to bring to hybris in order to further develop the solution:

As part of SAP, hybris is expected to take advantage of mobile, cloud and big data innovations from the company while continuing to drive forward the most modern, agile commerce platform in the market today.”

Product comparison

There is an overlap between the capabilities of SAP WCEM and those of the newly acquired hybris solution. Even on the technical side, both SAP and hybris are based on Model View Controller (MVC) concepts, web services and Java Server Faces (JSF).

In their 2012 third quarter report on B2C Commerce Suites, Forrester referred to hybris as being a leader. WCEM 2.0 came towards the rear of the Forrester Wave as a contender. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for E-Commerce also places hybris in the leaders quadrant, with WCEM considered a challenger but without the completeness of vision shown by hybris.

WCEM is a relatively new product which SAP has been keen to promote and develop, attracting some large reference customers. For example WCEM 3.0 Support Package 01 has recently shipped, which includes ODATA web services and a framework to extend and build new web services, allowing organisations to easily access backend systems for custom applications. AgilityWorks have recently used ODATA web services to enable customer self-service for service request processing and online payments as part of a major customer experience transformation project.

 

Figure 2: hybris management console

Click to enlarge

hybris and WCEM comparison

Conclusions

hybris is a market leader in multi-channel customer engagement and commerce, and for customer experience practitioners the new acquisition promises exciting future developments.

Integration of hybris into the SAP family will take a little bit of time, but hybris is already a best of breed solution in its own right, and this position will strengthen further when combined with SAP’s market presence and leading experience in mobile, cloud and big data.

For any organisation currently evaluating WCEM as a multi-channel commerce solution, AgilityWorks recommend that hybris is also evaluated. While WCEM may offer organisations a suitable solution in the short-term, SAP will be keen to integrate hybris into its commerce and customer engagement portfolio as quickly as possible to strengthen its overall market position.

WCEM 3.0 will remain in mainstream SAP maintenance until 31st December 2020, and a B2C Rapid Deployment Solution (RDS) WCEM scenario was released last month to complement the existing B2B scenario.

About AgilityWorks

AgilityWorks is a leading consulting practice with a passion to help our clients deliver substantive business improvement through successful application and technology solution deployment.

We believe that innovation is critical for the “digital” enterprise and many of our customer projects have been recognised as market leading. We take the time to understand our customers and their industry building an outstanding reputation for quality, value, insight and delivery.

If you would like to know more about customer experience and commerce transformation using SAP and hybris, please contact us at enquiries@agilityworks.co.uk

Jennifer Millard
By Jennifer Millard

Jennifer is AgilityWorks' resident Growth Hacker, working tirelessly with each business unit to bring you the latest and greatest technology and software innovations on the market. In her free time Jennifer is a keen cyclist, although she seems to spend more time falling off the bike than riding it.

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