George Anderson


C/4HANA for B2B ecommerce?

At SAPPHIRE 2018, SAP announced the launch of C/4HANA, a suite of CX (customer experience) solutions intended to cover sales, marketing, CRM, and ecommerce. While C/4HANA is not a new product (rather, an approach to data handling within SAP applications), the new vision SAP has cast raises all kinds of questions for midmarket B2B manufacturers.

Most importantly, as the Commerce Cloud component of C/4HANA replaces hybris, questions arise for B2B manufacturers looking to launch ecommerce. What does SAP’s C/4HANA vision mean for these companies?

Let’s look at some of these questions.

1. Is C/4HANA aligned with the needs of B2B manufacturers?

SAP’s SAPPHIRE vision of an “intelligent enterprise” is inspiring. Trouble is, it’s a lot to ask of manufacturers who are still taking orders via phone/fax/email. C/4HANA may be overkill if you’re just trying to simplify your order-to-cash process and become ETDBW (easier to do business with).

If you’re taking orders via phone/fax/email, is SAP’s new vision for you? Here are two perspectives from the SAP blogosphere:

  • “While the integration [between C/4HANA and SAP ERP] is there in principle, it’s currently out of reach for many customers, and much of it has yet to be turned into proven, deliverable use cases that work in the real world.” –Phil Wainewright, Diginomica
  • “They [SAP] are missing the mark as to what the market wants today and what CIOs have been put in charge of building over the next decade.” –Esteban Kolsky, thinkJar

What exactly have CIOs been put in charge of building? In our experience, they’re looking to become ETDBW (easier to do business with), generally through three types of customer-facing solutions:

What’s more, many of our clients start with an SAP-integrated order entry portal rather than a full catalog with rich content. Customers of these companies already know what they need. They just want to place orders fast. These companies don’t need the bleeding edge that is C/4HANA. They just need to empower their B2B buyers to place orders themselves, in real time, and post them to SAP.

In other words, for CIOs, it’s all about choice. IT executives at a B2B manufacturers need alternatives to SAP’s massive offerings. They need value that maps to their customers’ needs, and they can’t wait for SAP to figure out the integration that’s at the core of those needs.

More on that in a moment.

2. Will the new Commerce Cloud (old hybris) be available separately?

In a word, it’s too early to tell.

However, the smartest move for SAP is to continue to offer their ecommerce solution outside of the C/4HANA bundle. Forcing B2B manufacturers to buy the entire C/4HANA suite would produce an incredible amount of bloat for companies that just want ecommerce integrated to SAP. (Will Commerce Cloud integrate to SAP? More on that in a moment.)

On the topic of bloat, though, it’s unclear how flexible Commerce Cloud will be. Hybris is notoriously complex, expensive, and time-consuming for B2B manufacturers who just want to launch real-time SAP ecommerce (and want to launch it soon).

Is hybris staying bloated and getting a new name? Or is Commerce Cloud a whole new kind of ecommerce actually suited to the needs of the midmarket? Only time will tell.

3. Will SAP achieve real-time SAP ecommerce integration with Commerce Cloud in C/4HANA?

You won’t find this in SAP’s marketing material, but it’s important to note that hybris was a standalone solution when SAP purchased it in 2013—and SAP never completed the integration of hybris with its ERP products. Up to the C/4 announcement and the end of the hybris era, hybris remained a standalone ecommerce solution.

Will SAP complete the integration of its new Commerce Cloud (old hybris) with S/4HANA?

Maybe. But it’s been 5 years already.

In contrast, Corevist Commerce has always been fully integrated to SAP ERP in real time. We post orders to your SAP system on Day 1 and spend the next 90 days tailoring the solution to your needs. In other words, Corevist Commerce is ready to go. It delivers business value now.

4. Will C/4HANA have staying power?

When it comes to SAP’s corporate vision, things change fast. In 2014, SAP announced the launch of YaaS, or “hybris as a service.” The first YaaS release came out summer of 2015.

In April 2018, SAP killed YaaS. Wasn’t this supposed to be a forward-thinking solution?

Then there’s the adoption rate of S/4HANA. As Corevist CEO Sam Bayer mentions in his reflections on SAPPHIRE 2018, S/4HANA has an adoption rate of 0.6% among SAP’s client base. Not exactly a glowing endorsement from the front lines of B2B enterprise.

These are only a few examples of SAP’s shifting vision. The intelligent enterprise, focused on the customer through the C/4HANA suite, sounds amazing. Yet the question remains: Will C/4HANA be around in 5 years? How about in 2 years?

5. What about companies that don’t want to migrate off R/3 or ECC but need to launch ecommerce?

The C/4HANA suite requires the HANA database. So while the Commerce Cloud portion of C/4HANA may or may not be available separately from the rest of the suite as a standalone product, it’s difficult to conceive a scenario in which SAP Commerce Cloud can easily integrate to R/3 or on-premises ECC in real time.

For companies that want to do ecommerce but don’t want to migrate to HANA, that’s a potential hole in SAP’s vision.

Will they address that issue? Probably not. Let’s face it, HANA adoption rates are low, and the bundle-or-nothing approach is a classic sales tactic. SAP would rather push Commerce Cloud along with C/4HANA and S/4HANA. Goodbye best of breed and third-party ecosystem. Hello, larger share of wallet for SAP.

Luckily, a massive upgrade isn’t the only option. Companies that don’t want to migrate to HANA can stabilize their SAP systems with Rimini Street. Rimini Street exists to help free up cash from expensive SAP maintenance so companies can innovate around their core ERP system. For companies in this situation, Corevist Commerce remains a powerful path to real-time SAP-integrated ecommerce.

Moving forward: Case study

Curious about real-time ecommerce for SAP? Download this case study. You’ll learn how PARI Respiratory launched ECC-integrated ecommerce, satisfied customers who wanted a web order portal, and relieved the burden on CSRs who were keying orders into SAP.

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