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CRM and sales automation systems have existed for many years now. Many of them are in transactional /automation systems. The need of the hour is omni-channel consumer engagement system, let’s discuss.

Inspired by Ray Wang’s post in HBR, moving from transaction to engagement, I thought of pinning my long pending blog on this topic, which is a topic we are working on here at SAP. Ray suggests 9 tips on an effective consumer engagement system.

I like history, and it helps us to understand evolution and the “whys” behind anything. In the business evolution, Forrester had shared an excellent article recently on Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer, where they really highlight 2010+ as age of customer with customer-obsessed metrics
are key. The evolution goes back through manufacturing, distribution, information and into now in age of  customer.

Getting back to Ray’s post and connecting it with ‘age of customer’, the fundamental shift on customer (CRM) system is moving away from
transactional/automation system which is very operational in nature, has a lot of B2B focus, with strength in enterprise centric customer information and is
inside-out (for cross sell, upsell, opportunity tracking) to systems that facilitates knowing about the consumer, their omni-channel activities (across
enterprise and digital channels), B2C focus and is outside-in (understanding what consumer wants/two way interaction and how they perceive through every

Consumer engagement & profile enrichment


The below picture shows a simple example for an airline to understand the  passenger better over a time scale, note how the consumer picture becomes more clear.

This is what we call as “profile enrichment” where we continuously build and enrich profile of consumers. There could be 100s of profile attributes
that the business users would be interested to know about their consumers.

But every large or small company have huge consumer base (can run into millions of consumers).The ultimate business goal is to get good share 7.2billion+ people of the world as your consumers. Many companies rely on their partners/retailers to know their real customers, their needs and is often a big challenge. All this boils down to really big data of consumers and we are talking of understanding 100s of profile attributes, of each consumers.


Technology plays a pivot role in ability to handle large consumer activities, across omni-channel and enrich profile of the consumers.
This can’t be done manually, gone are the days when a marketer or commercial manager would sit and get a segmentation done for targeting campaigns. The need of “age of customer” is to enable rule based and predictive learning that would allow for constantly asking the relevant questions about the consumer omni-channel activities and data, and enriching the consumer profile through machine learning algorithms.  The biggest competitive advantage for the company would be to constantly ask the relevant differentiating questions and translate the knowledge back into the consumer engagement
systems. So these systems have to be special purpose platforms which cannot be pre-built applications like we have a traditional CRM transaction system.

Technology further enables bringing the context (time stamp) of consumer activity. This is especially very relevant given mobile brings the opportunity to understand the real time context and the geo location of the consumer, and their intent (to buy). The context information can again be bucketed into as attributes to enrich consumer profile.

In addition to getting the consmer data, we need to empower business users to visualize these consumers information in different new ways, an example is pixel plot big data visualization.

SAP with its Hybris e-commerce suite and its powerful big data platform SAP HANA, enables for this special purpose platform for consumer
engagement. It’s really competitive differentiation in this age of customer, to know and enrich their consumer’s profile and provide personalized consumer

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