How we edged out hybris in a major deal
I just got back from facilitating our standard two day Project Initiation Workshop at the Pennsylvania headquarters of our newest client*. There are so many things that I can say about the event, amongst which are; how wonderful the people were, how perfect of a fit our solution was, how great our methodology worked and how typically “Agile” simple the final project plan was. But the thing that I’m most proud of was simply that we were given the honor to be there after the client gave a serious look to Gartner’s recommendation of both hybris and SAP’s WCEM.
Frankly, I don’t think that we “beat” SAP or hybris (who are now one and the same). I think that they shouldn’t have been in the room in the first place. Just like we won’t bid on the projects that are predominantly Retail oriented, sponsored by Marketing Organizations and have intergalactic content management requirements, I believe SAP hybris shouldn’t be bidding on the predominantly Industrial Manufacturer B2B ecommerce projects that are sponsored by IT and Operations. They simply aren’t geared up for these more complicated integration requirements projects and the smaller budgets available for them.
I had a long chat with the VP of IS after our workshop was over and here are his top nine reasons why SAP hybris didn’t make the cut and why we were selected to support them with their worldwide B2B ecommerce initiatives:
- Significant Infrastructure and Prerequisite Software Costs – The cost of bringing the infrastructure (additional servers) and implementing SAP CRM (simply required to be able to discuss the SAP eCommerce solutions) was burdensome from the start. b2b2dot0’s cloud solution has no such requirements.
- Prohibitive Software and Implementation Costs – First year costs for the SAP hybris solution would come close to $750K…if there were no cost overruns (a highly unlikely occurrence). b2b2dot0 offers a fixed price, fixed time project and total cost of ownership was less than half that number…and that’s for implementing and running the website for 3 years!
- Incremental Ongoing Personnel Costs – The organization would have to grow their organization and hire/train staff to support the new technology stack. Counting on expensive consultants would not be a long term solution. b2b2dot0 requires zero new resources or skills. We only require that existing Business and SAP resources focus their attention on cleaning up business processes and SAP data to support the B2B eCommerce initiative. We call this reacting to the “Kimono effect“.
- Architecturally Closed Solution – The SAP hybris solutions require that you use their prescribed content management solutions (beasts in their own right). In this case, Marketing had already invested heavily in a Sitecore solution and they didn’t want to throw that away. b2b2dot0 has an open architecture for content management. We will eventually integrate with the client’s Sitecore solution, or, if they prefer, when the time comes, they can consider the open source solution that we recommend, Magento.
- Support Incremental Rollouts – The initial rollout phases were directed at producing “zero touch” orders. This was all about improving Operations, and the faster the better. The SAP hybris folks were fixated on “Omnichannel support” and all of the content and device support that their massive platform supports…none of which was required to achieve “zero touch” orders. b2b2dot0 simply gets it. In fact, one of the highest value features was the ability to upload spreadsheet orders with hundreds of line items. The first phase is going to be geared towards the several hundred loyal customers and distributors around the world that are simply looking for a more efficient buying experience as opposed to being “sold to” with sophisticated catalogs and up-sell/cross-sell schemes.
- Need to Get Value Quickly – There were two reasons that the SAP hybris solution was going to prolong the timeframe required to realize real business value. The first was that the decision to buy their product was big. It is a big solution that comes with a big price tag that requires Marketing to retool their technology and processes. That means a lot of research, planning and due diligence. Almost as much as the initial decision to go with SAP. The second reason was that if they decided to go with SAP hybris, the project itself would be big and complicated and probably wouldn’t go to pilot for 9-12 months from contract signing. That would mean the first customer order would probably happen in late 2014. The first Client call to b2b2dot0 was on June 27, 2013. The contract was signed on August 15, 2013 and the first live order will happen on December 5, 2013. That’s five months from “hello” to “we’re live!”. Now that’s quick value!
- Keep Marketing Out of the Decision – This was an Operational decision. Marketing doesn’t understand, nor do they really care about Sales Operational issues. Achieving Zero Touch Orders is not in Marketing’s brief. Involving them would only complicate and prolong the decision making process (see #6 Need to Get Value Quickly). Therefore, they didn’t want the solution decision making process to require them. This was impossible to do with the SAP hybris solution since they were more focused on the Marketing aspects of their solution than the Operational requirements…aka integration with SAP business processes and data. b2b2dot0’s open architecture, deep SAP integration and focus on delivering incremental solutions, fit this bill perfectly.
- Deliver it From the Cloud – The SAP hybris solutions were predominantly being offered as traditional on-premise solutions. That was too big a commitment to make (see #s 1-3) while just getting started on their B2B eCommerce journey. No one in the company is certain of the results of this “experiment” to allow their customers to have a self-service portal for Order Management. They want to remain as flexible as possible with their cash and resources…in the worst case, they’d like the option to stop the experiment. A big up-front capital expenditure and expensive implementation project was too much to spend to test the eCommerce waters. They knew they weren’t mature enough for the Rolls Royce solution. Give b2b2dot0 a VPN connection to your SAP landscape and you’re 80% done on day one of the project. While none of our clients have turned off our service since our inception, they all have the ability to simply “pull the plug” and embark on whatever other strategy they prefer.
- Looking for a Partner – Last but not least, since this client was new to B2B eCommerce, they were looking to work with a company that not only had world class technology and great references, but really wanted to work with them. They wanted to work with people who were responsive and cared. Working with the SAP hybris folks definitely felt like they were working with a large bureaucratic organization. In the end, they never felt as if they got real answers to their questions and concerns. b2b2dot0’s business model is all about building relationships. We have to because we interact with our clients, and their implementations, every day for the duration of our contract…24×7. Besides, this is all we do. One thing. SAP eCommerce. Real time. Real Value.
This is the dawn of a new era for B2B eCommerce. SAP just spent over $1B purchasing hybris to initiate it. We at b2b2dot0 are glad they did. We’ll focus on the pragmatic industrial SMB manufacturers and they can focus on the Intergalactic Retailers. Between the two of us, they’ll be a lot less friction in the B2B eCommerce world in the coming days.
*I would love to tell you who they are but I'm contractually bound to protect their identity. Suffice it to say that I'm 99% certain that anyone reading this who has kids will recognize their name and have purchased their products.
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