One of the latest additions to SAP’s rapidly expanding Customer Engagement & Commerce product suite, is Hybris Marketing.  Here I’ll cover off some of the basic questions we’ve encountered talking to new and existing SAP customers about what the product does….



1. Exactly what is Hybris Marketing and why would I need it?


It’s a digital marketing platform developed largely in-house by SAP.  It offers a complete set of marketing capabilities including data management, segmentation, campaign planning & budgeting, multi-channel execution and a reporting / analytics suite.  It is available in public and private cloud versions as well as on-premise.  It runs on a HANA database which equips it with the capability to handle big data and offer real-time insight and predictive tools over this.


At the heart of the solution is a golden customer record, which allows common customer records scattered across multiple enterprise applications to be identified and tied together; through the creation of this golden record, comes the ability to understand end-to-end customer journeys, lifetimes and insight which were previously hidden through fragmented systems and data.


The solution comes in B2B and B2C versions, and is particularly relevant in industries where consumer-grade data volumes are posing challenges to Marketing departments.  The difficulties in listening to, understanding, reaching, engaging and predicting the needs and behaviours of customers continue to grow as the data points and touch-points they generate, increase.


2. Who are the competition?


It’s interesting that SAP have chosen to invest in what is already a crowded market-place.  There is plenty of choice for businesses looking for Enterprise Marketing solutions although very few vendors can legitimately claim or even better prove they can deal with B2C grade data volumes and the associated challenges this poses. 


The marketplace is occupied by hundreds of specialist niche providers offering points solutions in Loyalty, Automation, Search, WCEM, Platform, Data and Insights.  Alongside these niche vendors a smaller number of ‘wall-to-wall’ vendors who include a CMESA (Campaign Management, Execution, Segmentation and Analytics) offering at their core.  The SalesForce Marketing Cloud (formerly ExactTarget), Oracle (incorporating the acquisition of Eloqua and Responsys) and Hubspot are just a few examples of the vendors out there, there are many more.


SAP are building their differentiation strategy around current market challenges in big data, customer experience and real time business; to an extent this is necessary, since there are so many CMESA providers available that this space is effectively commoditised.


Because Hybris Marketing runs exclusively on SAP’s HANA technology, it has the capacity to deal with millions of customers, generating tens of millions of touch-points. 


Whilst HANA is synonymous with high-performance databases and applications, it also brings a suite of predictive tools and pre-built models which can be used to calculate likely patterns of customer behaviour and associated outcomes.  These two capabilities in combination create some interesting use cases:  customers can be scored and profiled during a website visit; where previously a customer was pre-scored using their profile and historical transactions, it is now possible to assess their behaviour on-the-fly, predict their next action and serve the most relevant content and offers to them. 


Given the size and diversity of the marketplace, part of SAP’s strategy is based upon partnership, since from a standing start, it would be a huge undertaking to create an offering in every specialist marketing discipline.  Examples of such partners are Krux and Datasift as service providers for data, Adobe for Web Content management, Gigya and Sprinklr for social integration and Google Analytics for insight


3. I thought Hybris Marketing was an acquisition yet this product was natively developed in-house?


That’s correct.  The solution was not part of the Hybris Marketing acquisition although Hybris Marketing has a strong brand in the software market and SAP have chosen to capitalise on that in the branding of the new product.  What we have seen in recent weeks is the Hybris Marketing brand now being rolled-out by SAP across the entire portfolio of customer engagement solutions including Cloud for Customer. 


Hybris Marketing actually started life under a different name, SAP Customer Engagement Intelligence, which provided point segmentation and analytical capabilities but which required deployment alongside a campaign management & execution tool to support end-to-end marketing processes; it was a logical step for SAP to extend the solution out to offer a full set of capabilities.


As the exception to prove this rule, there is a solution within the Hybris Marketing umbrella that was an acquisition.  SAP purchased SeeWhy, a re-marketing solution that can automate the follow-up of abandoned shopping carts and convert these into subsequent orders, which now makes up the Hybris Marketing Conversion offering.


4. Do I need HANA to run it? (and what else?)


In a word, yes.  There is no alternative database available and the HANA database license is included in the product license itself.  If you already have HANA in your landscape, there are co-deployment options available that permit shared instances between ECC and Hybris Marketing for example. 


Beyond HANA, the application stack, sits on a Netweaver instance and is predominantly ABAP-based.  The user-interface is written in UI5 and has a Fiori look-and-feel to it (although is not technically Fiori).  For reporting, there is a Lumira plug-in, to develop and extend dashboards, although the product ships with native reporting, including a CMO dashboard which does not require Lumira.


Like any digital marketing platform, Hybris Marketing is highly dependent upon data to feed predictive models or to support processes such as segmentation.  There is pre-existing integration into other SAP applications (including ECC and CRM)  via the HANA System Landscape Transformation server for real-time exchange of master and transactional data. 


Naturally, the solution will need to draw in data from non-SAP sources and SAP Data Services connectors are provided for this purpose with some pre-delivered integration to common sources such as Facebook.


5. What does this mean for SAP CRM?


Currently the Marketing & Campaign Management solution in SAP CRM remains supported until 2025 although I do not expect to see substantial further investment in it.  There are co-deployment options that allow for customers who have already invested in SAP CRM to cherry-pick certain components from Hybris Marketing and run these inside existing SAP CRM processes; an example of this is building customer segments in H.M. and transferring these through to campaign execution processes in SAP CRM.

Currently there is significant overlap between the two solutions in terms of functional breadth, campaign management, segmentation, execution, analytics and lead management are all provided through both applications. 


Hybris Marketing offers additional capabilities is in areas such as Data Management which offers marketing users the opportunity to query and analyse large volumes of master, transactional and behavioural data, to drive out understanding and insight, informing down-stream campaigns and events.  There is a golden record concept within the tool that helps to deal with a challenge particularly common in B2C - fragmentation of the customer record created by the multiple channels and entry points for this data into the organisation.


Hybris Marketing further differs from its’ predecessor through the predictive capabilities it offers, drawn up from the native capabilities of HANA and offering a number of use cases around web personalisation and campaign return-on-investment optimisation.


6. What would an implementation look and feel like?


It’s likely to start with a business case, since many organisations will be looking for the justification to replace existing systems and processes or possibly an outsourced arrangement with agencies.  The project could be an opportunity to re-design the marketing operating model and supporting processes, particularly if these have not been revisited in recent years.  And consider the impact this will have on your customers and also your partners, as it may change the dynamic with both of these parties.


The solution implementation will feel different depending on whether you choose public cloud or on-premise of course.  And marketing projects do bring specific challenges around data, integration, testing and customer impact not always present with other commercial technology projects.


There are Rapid Deployment Solutions available for both the core application and the integration of common data sources.  To install, configure and deploy a basic solution, a timeline of 3 – 4 months is achievable depending upon a number of factors including business scope, degree of fit, user adoption and the quality / availability of underlying data.


7. What does the future look like?


I expect to see continued aggressive investment from SAP in this product for the foreseeable future and persistent rumours of acquisitions won’t go away, particular around the areas social and e-mail marketing service providers, where today, for social in particular, SAP rely heavily on partnerships. 


There is still great opportunity to leverage further value from integrating into other parts of the SAP portfolio.  Earlier this year, use cases involving integration to the SMS 365 platform for outbound campaign execution were launched as an example of this and there should be more to come.


I also expect to see a big push and associated investment from SAP in the public cloud edition of Hybris Marketing, which SAP need in order to go head-to-head with other vendors where the default offering is public cloud.


So to conclude then, SAP’s challenge for 2016 is to break into what is an already established market-place; to do this, they will have to persuade customers that a solution which handles and exploits consumer grade data is critical to the success of their businesses in the coming months and  years.




I hope this was a useful introduction. Look out for other FAQs on this site.



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