SAP commits to Experience Management following Qualtrics acquisition

SAP is starting to bring the capabilities of its new $8 billion acquisition to customers with ten new use cases for combining your operational data and experience data

Credit: Magdalena Petrova

Three months after completing its acquisition of the Utah-based SaaS vendor Qualtrics, business software giant SAP is bringing 'experience management' capabilities to its customers with a set of 10 initial use cases, all aimed at helping organisations to collect feedback from their customers and employees and pipe that back into enterprise systems to drive real action.

Qualtrics builds software that allows enterprises to collect and analyse customer and employee experience data (X-data, as they call it) through surveys and feedback forms. SAP specialises in enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, but also sells a gamut of software that underpins some of the biggest companies on the planet, all collecting operational data, or 'O-data'.

Speaking on stage in Orlando yesterday during SAP Sapphire, SAP CEO Bill McDermott said: "Experience is now the organising principle of the global economy. Every CEO is trying to solve the experience gap of what they expect versus what they actually achieve.

"SAP must be the platform that combines X- and O-data to deliver true personalisation at mass scale to bridge the experience gap."

Use cases

SAP has wholeheartedly adopted Qualtrics' rhetoric around 'the experience economy', launching what it calls SAP Experience Management.

"This provides an end-to-end customer experience platform in the industry, allowing organisations to listen, understand and act on insights that will drive purchasing decisions and customer loyalty," according to the vendor.

The first step is a new integration of Qualtrics' customer feedback application CustomerXM to SAP's recently launched CRM system, C/4HANA, which became available last year.

"Together, this will make it easier than ever for organisations to combine X- and O-Data, gain actionable insights at every step of the customer journey and deliver personalised customer experiences," Webb Stevens, VP of CustomerXM at Qualtrics said in a blog post.

The four use cases in customer experience include SAP Qualtrics CX for Commerce, which integrates CustomerXM and the SAP Commerce Cloud.

Second is CX for Sales, which pairs the CustomerXM B2B offering with the SAP Sales Cloud; third is CX for Customer Service, which combines the CustomerXM contact centre solution with SAP Service Cloud; and lastly there's CX for Marketing, which integrates CustomerXM with SAP Marketing Cloud.

Next is an integration between Qualtrics XM applications with SAP's HR suite, including SuccessFactors.

"Built directly into existing HR systems, the solutions gather experience data from employees throughout the employee life-cycle and empower HR leaders and managers to listen, understand and act on insights that will attract, engage and retain a world-class workforce," SAP outlined in a press release.

SAP Qualtrics Employee Engagement looks to pinpoint employee experience, engagement and productivity drivers by combining survey responses with analytics to uncover focus areas for managers.

Meanwhile, SAP Qualtrics Employee Lifecycle can trigger surveys at employee milestones, such as first-day onboarding, training, promotion and exit to get more feedback than just a pulse survey.

Lastly, SAP Qualtrics Employee Benefits Optimiser is a new application aimed at identifying ideal benefits and compensation packages centred on employee feedback.

In a broader sense, McDermott said that SAP is: "Building in Qualtrics, it's not a heavy integration lift... these layers can stand independently and coalesce in the business process. We are going to bring experience data into all the applications."

To get started with these solutions customers can request a demo from SAP or Qualtrics. Information on pricing is not yet known.

Early joint customers McDermott identified include American Express, Under Armour, BMW, Airbus and Verizon, who are "now among the many many X plus O experience brands we are intimately engaged with". The NBA also appeared on stage earlier in the keynote, and referenced that it is a joint customer of the two vendors already.

Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith retold a story this week about how one of the first text messages he and McDermott received after the deal closed was from Kevin Plank, the CEO of sportswear brand Under Armour (Bill McDermott sits on the board at Under Armour), a customer of both software vendors. The text said "we want to be the lighthouse customer" for the two companies now.

Internal use

McDermott added that SAP will be practising what it preaches and will become the "largest Qualtrics reference in the world".

Speaking to press and analysts, McDermott added: "SAP, like every other company, should immediately implement Qualtrics on the customer satisfaction and retention process, not just when they are up for renewal, but you have to manage and optimise that experience through the life-cycle of the relationship."

"HR shouldn't be dependent on two annual pulse checks," he said, referring to the employee experience side. "You need to have a personal relationship with every employee to mass personalise your processes to cater to the needs of each individual, and that is only possible through a tool like Qualtrics."

When asked by a member of the press how SAP and Qualtrics can help organisations make the cultural changes to be more experience-focused, McDermott mused that "Qualtrics is the elixir for cultural change".

"I want to have an outside-in company," he continued. "We want the voice of the customer in everything we do: how are our people carrying themselves? How are products resonating with you, how can we do better?"

He added that soon after they closed their first financial quarter this year he had "a Qualtrics conversation with everyone at the company about how we can do better".

When asked for a more concrete example by Computerworld UK, McDermott talked about the entire product design life-cycle.

"If I think about our products, before you bring a product to market I think it is really good to get the voice of the customer at mass scale into the engineering design, so this design thinking and innovation is huge," he said.

"Similarly when these products hit the market and the experience that customers are having shouldn't show up in an annual survey, we should be monitoring that procedure, implementation, consumption, ease of use, enjoyment of the functionality, all in real time. This is how you get 20,000 engineers to be intimately involved in what is going on outside of the company and not guessing whether they are right or not."

On the talent side, McDermott added: "We are all in a global war for talent... the whole idea of recruiting to retirement and handling that value chain exquisitely is the difference between winning and losing."

An example of how this will look is of course, Under Armour, which both companies enjoy referencing. Under Armour used insights it got from its product testers via the Qualtrics app to redesign its running shoe after the company was told it was too heavy and clunky. We will have to wait and see if SAP customers can find a route to say the same about their enterprise applications.

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