We’ve Got One Too: SAP Launches Its Customer Data Platform

Like its cohorts in the cloud – Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle and Microsoft – SAP is positioning its CDP mainly as a customer experience play.

When it rains, it pours … CDP news.

On Wednesday, two days after Twilio said it would pay $3.2 billion to acquire CDP Segment, SAP said it will release its enterprise customer data platform globally next month. SAP first teased its plan to roll out a CDP in May of last year.

Like its cohorts in the cloud – Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle and Microsoft – SAP is positioning its CDP mainly as a customer experience play.

Not just a marketing thing

“We are far more than a transactional CRM vendor,” SAP CEO Christian Klein told reporters during a virtual press conference. “It’s really about customer experience.”

And siloed data, which is on the rise for marketers, makes for a poor customer experience.

But SAP stressed its foray into the CDP category is about more than marketing.

That expansiveness is one of its differentiators, said Bob Stutz, who joined SAP as president of customer experience late last year after a stint as CEO of Salesforce’s marketing cloud.

Most CDPs are “geared toward marketing,” said Stutz (who somewhat famously referred to CDPs as a “passing fad” while at Salesforce), whereas SAP’s offering can also handle other scenarios, he noted, including commerce, service, support and supply-chain management, which all fall under the umbrella of customer experience.

“It can tie the back end in with the front end,” Stutz said.

And it can also play nice with third-party technology providers, said Thomas Saueressig, a member of SAP’s executive board and head of SAP product engineering. Interoperability is de rigueur for CDPs, he said, especially if the focus is on facilitating the end-to-end customer experience.

Seamless data flow, for example, is as important for personalizing the buying experience as it is for making it easy for customers to make returns.

Data governance as differentiator

SAP’s CDP, which was in beta for the past six and a half months, is built on top of SAP’s customer data cloud solutions, powered by identity management platform Gigya, and will be housed within SAP’s Customer Experience business unit. SAP acquired Gigya in September 2017 for $350 million.

Weaving data governance capabilities into its customer data platform is another way for SAP to differentiate, Klein said, especially as privacy regulations come into force around the world and businesses have to comply with data access and deletion requests.

More broadly, SAP is planning to spend $1 billion on localizing its solutions over the next five years. There’s a big need for it, Saueressig said. During the first couple of months of the pandemic, SAP made more than 80 tweaks to its systems in order to accommodate local legal changes.

Update on Emarsys

In other news, SAP is planning to integrate Emarsys, the omnichannel marketing platform it acquired in early October, as soon as the regulatory approvals are in.

There’s a dotted line between the Emarsys deal and SAP’s ambitions on the CDP front.

“We can connect the experience from the front office to all of the functions in the company,” Klein said. “Based on the acquisition of Emarsys, we can also try for very personalized experiences.”