Categories: Founder's Blog


Sam Bayer


Hybris Game Plan: Thoughts from the Conference

Last week, SAP® hybris staged their second annual Game Plan – B2B eCommerce event in Chicago.  I was fortunate enough to be able to attend and boy was I glad that I did!

I say fortunate in that two weeks before the event my registration was inexplicably canceled and payment refunded.   Upon inquiry I was told, after the fact, that the conference was only open to SAP® hybris employees, conference Sponsors or a member of the Industry… aka either an existing SAP® hybris client or a sales prospect.  In the end, after a few emails back and forth, they did the right thing and let me in.

So what are my key takeaways from the event?

  • SAP® knows how to put on a show!  It was first class all the way.  By conference standards, it was a fairly intimate event with maybe 300-400 guests.  The venue was well suited to the size, the food was good and plentiful and the orchestration of the event by Mark Jeffries was superb.
  • The agenda lived up to its billing.  There were a lot of great war stories from hybris pioneers (3M, Ingram MicroD, Aviall, GE, Medtronic, Aramark, Colgate).  There were also plenty of networking opportunities at the various breaks, meals and happy hour event on Tuesday evening.   I overheard many an attendee say that they felt great learning that “they were on the right track” or that they were happy to learn that “they weren’t alone with the issues they were experiencing on their projects”.   From that perspective, I guess the meeting was akin to an extended group therapy session for 300-400 people :-).
  • hybris is for the Big Boys.  When pressed for a financial estimate for what it would take to get a hybris pilot project into production, 3M’s Charlie Calisto said “$3M – $5M and that doesn’t include hardware or software.  That’s just people/consulting costs.”  Nearly all of the presenters sketched out 1 to 2 year timelines to get to that pilot launch.  It’s easy to see how those costs and timelines can be considered “reasonable” in the context that GE presented where they were transitioning a $7B business unit onto their new hybris platform.
  • SAP® is for business, hybris is for content.  Unanimously (except for Bobcat who laments their decision not to), every SAP® installation has made the decision not to duplicate SAP® pricing, inventory, delivery and financial information and business rules into the hybris platform.  They leverage hybris’ extensibility to reach out to SAP®, which is the business system of record, in real time as needed.  Everyone is absolutely in love with hybris’ ability to manage rich product information, the end user’s shopping experience and the creation of personalized storefronts with out relying on the IT organization.  Maintaining duplicate data structures and business rules was not considered to be a viable option.
  • Think big.  Start small.  Move quickly.  The common challenge faced by all B2B eCommerce projects was their difficulty in gaining the support, and affecting the organizational changes, required to succeed.  The prescription offered by most presenters was to be Agile.  Think big, start small and move quickly.  I’m not sure which parts of $3M- $5M and 1-2 years are small and quick, but maybe this was a case of “do as I say, not as I do” :-).  Nevertheless, regardless of how hard it is to implement, these are indeed words of wisdom.
  • Find a partner.  You simply can’t do this alone.  The technological challenges of developing on a new platform and integrating with existing marketing, web and ERP systems is the easy part of the project.  Managing cross-organizational and extended teams, many with off shore components, implementing new project management methodologies and creating new business models and the organizational structures required to support them, are daunting for the newbies.  The good news is that Deloitte, Accenture, Sapient and Razorfish were all standing in the ready to offer their services :-).
  • It’s a journey.  The word “journey” is a euphemism for  “be prepared to fail”.  Without exception, things never go as planned on these projects.  They are too complicated, have too many moving parts, have divergent and conflicting vested interests that need to be aligned, and are all under intense pressure, to believe otherwise.  So having the right attitude…a learning attitude…is a critical success factor for these projects.

As I reflect on my experience at SAP® hybris Game Plan Chicago 2014 I’m left with three overriding impressions:

  1. SAP® hybris is an incredible force in the market.  They’ve recruited world class talent and have the deep pockets to support them in their mission to grow, and seize, the B2B eCommerce market opportunity.  I’m jealous of their resources.
  2. I’m incredibly proud of the Corevist team, our clients and our collective accomplishments.  Together we’ve been able to accomplish business results on par with any of the presenters at Game Plan, with significantly less resources, in dramatically less time and at orders of magnitude less cost.
  3. I can’t wait to bring our hybris SAP® extension to market and enable hybris’ penetration into the SAP® mid-market.  Everyone in the SAP® market should have access to the B2B eCommerce solution that is currently only available currently to the Big Boys.

Lastly, I’m glad to be home.