SAP Hybris President Carsten Thoma
SAP Hybris President Carsten Thoma said his company is reinventing the way products are sold, services are delivered.

SAP revealed the SAP Hybris Revenue Cloud yesterday at the SAP Hybris LIVE: Digital Summit. The worldwide event attracted more than 6,500 people at venues in Singapore, Munich and New York City and an additional 20,000 online who tuned in for the live streaming video.

SAP Hybris Revenue Cloud has the potential to change the way you sell your products, deliver services, transact and interact with your customers and ultimately think about your business, SAP executives said.

Beyond Quote-to-Cash

"SAP Hybris Revenue Cloud goes beyond the quote-to-cash process with new capabilities for order configuration, pricing, quoting, order orchestration and subscription billing — all in the cloud," the company noted in a statement.

From the stage in New York's Union Square, SAP Hybris President Carsten Thoma told the audience that these capabilities will power the forthcoming "consumption economy" in which products and services are paid for as they are consumed rather than purchased or leased.

Fergus O'Reilly, global vice president for Solution Management at SAP Hybris, demonstrated this concept with the example of a power drill manufacturer. Instead of earning revenues by selling those drills, the drill maker could place its drills at work sites and charge its customers a nominal fee each time the power button was pushed. In other words, Power Drill-as-a-Service.

O'Reilly noted that in a real world scenario the drill would be connected to an Internet of Things (IoT) platform rather than the Wi-Fi used in the demo. In that case, data from the use of the drill itself would be sent to the SAP Hybris Revenue Cloud for monetization. Use events would also be stored in SAP Leonardo for analysis, GPS location tracking and predictive maintenance.

Fergus O'Reilly at SAP Event
Fergus O'Reilly, global vice president for Solution Management at SAP Hybris, expounded on Power Drills-as-a-Service.

In addition, worksite managers would have real-time visibility into charges as they accrue to prevent billing surprises at the end of the month.

The wins for manufacturing firms that use a large number of power drills are obvious: no initial outlays of cash to buy the drills and no maintenance or repair costs. In addition, productivity might even rise because work wouldn't stop as often because of broken equipment.

Product-as-a-Service

In an era where automobile manufacturers are beginning to think about transportation Uber-style and athletic footwear manufacturers like ASICS want to connect directly with their customers to remind them when they need new shoes, SAP could be on to something.

Especially when you consider Hybris was designed from the ground-up using a microservice oriented architecture, which makes it easy to experiment and inexpensive to “fail fast” in the ways companies market and deliver products and services to their customers. That will enable partners and customers to build and harness flexible extensions and solutions, SAP noted.

Constellation Research vice president and principal analyst Holger Mueller told CMSWire that SAP Hybris' microservices are its key differentiator. It allows for much better scaling, in smaller steps, making uptake easier, and that on a code level, it can be embedded into the code for websites and more.

"If Salesforce started today — or three years ago like Hybris — it would be microservices-based," said Mueller. Over time, most software will be microservices-based, too, he added.

Advantages of Microservices

It is a sentiment not lost on Thoma, who told the New York audience that SAP's ability to leapfrog its competition is a "matter of software and software foundation." The customers who buy Hybris will lead their industries, SAP maintains.

"This architecture can take them there," Constellation Research founder and principal analyst R "Ray" Wang told CMSWire. The questions, he continued, are whether customers can make that leap of faith to choose SAP for these capabilities and at what price.

But, of course, that only matters if customers buy Hybris (it can be consumed on-premises or as Hybris-as-a-Service) and leverage its capabilities. Thoma told the crowd about how athletic wear manufacturer Under Armour uses Hybris to think more about community than sales because when products are woven into the daily lives of consumers the revenues take care of themselves.

If you win at customer engagement, you win in business, explained Jamie Anderson, SAP senior vice president and CMO, SAP Hybris, from the venue in Singapore.

Mobility Is the Enabler

The proposition centers around the idea of mobility being the enabler for new business models where products turn into services and brands can engage with customers, literally, anywhere and at any time.

There was some talk of data privacy and what Brian Walker, chief strategy officer, SAP Hybris called "creepy, creeping online profiling," which SAP executives in all three venues addressed from the stage. They noted customers should be able to decide from the moment they buy a product whether a vendor can have access to their data.

They used the opportunity to talk about SAP's enterprise pedigree, which might assuage concerns around GDPR.

SAP's other big Hybris pitch centered around filling the "fragile moments" in the customer journey, such as hand-offs between departments and changes in channels, making areas that are complex, seamless and "simple" as SAP likes to say.

Smarter Than Albert Einstein?

It is hard to weigh the innovative strength of CRM-like products without thinking about what Salesforce and Microsoft have to offer. Here, SAP helped the crowd by providing a little information about Albert Einstein.

Apparently, Einstein believed that his guesses were "good enough." That is not "good enough" for SAP customers, said O'Reilly, implying that SAP's machine-learning guru, SAP Clea, always gets it right.

But perhaps Hybris' biggest opportunity lies in what wasn't emphasized — SAP's massive presence in the world's leading companies. Consider that SAP has 345,000 corporate customers, 110,000 cloud users and 15,000 business partners.

If these enterprises look to Hybris as they digitally transform their businesses and are mindful of how easily Hybris can connect to and leverage data in existing SAP applications and SAP HANA, the sky — not the competition — is literally, the limit.