Hasso Plattner, Cofounder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board, SAP
The Business Accelerator
German software giant SAP, under the watchful eye of its cofounder and chairman of the supervisory board, Hasso Plattner, oversees 70-plus SAP solutions on high-performance, in-memory database platform SAP HANA, including SAP CRM, which has more than 10,000 users. But that's not what Plattner is most excited about now. "It's not about HANA anymore. It's about the applications running HANA," he said during SAP's annual user conference in May in Orlando, Fla.
In the words of SAP Co-CEO Bill McDermott, HANA represents the "intellectual renewal of SAP" at a time when more than 30 million users are running SAP cloud software solutions in some capacity. That was the resounding declaration coming out of the SAP SAPPHIRENOW + ASUG Annual Conference, which drew 25,000 attendees.
More than 16,000 active developers augment third-party applications with HANA for increased speed and agility. Supporting them is a burgeoning SAP Startup Focus Program, launched last year, which quickly added more than 200 young start-up companies. Plattner called the start-up program "one of the best ideas [SAP has had] in the last ten years."
One start-up, a personalized marketing platform called Fan Appz, built a Consumer Insights Hub that runs on HANA. The Hub is an amalgam of "all of the behavioral, consumer, and other data we bring in from our clients' systems, data from SAP Customer on Demand [now SAP Cloud for Customer], and e-commerce systems," comments Jon Siegal, CEO of Fan Appz. "I get a full, 360-degree view of my customer[s] and their relationships with me as a brand, and can use that information to do very powerful segmentation and marketing."
This year, SAP continued its mobile push with a number of launches, including SAP Business Planning and Consolidation 10.0, a solution that enables customers "to do real-time analytics while they're on the go," Mimi Spier, senior director of marketing and mobile analytics at SAP, told CRM earlier this year.
Another significant mobile launch introduced SAP Fiori, a set of 25 Web applications optimized for Google Chrome. Fiori, designed to run SAP software functionality across all HTML5-supported devices, can, for example, be used to create sales orders, expedite customer invoices, approve travel expenses, and check pricing and availability. The collection of mobile-first applications touches some 85 percent of SAP users' needs. In addition to ERP, CRM, and supplier relationship management applications, Plattner made mention of SAP's real-time analytics and ability to drive real-time commerce in B2B environments. "That's a major step forward," he said. "We can deploy any application in the cloud."—Kelly Liyakasa
Paul Papas, Global Leader, IBM Smarter Commerce
The King of Commerce
Since its inception in March 2011, IBM's Smarter Commerce business practice has been on an accelerated path to drive digital transformation in the enterprise. Paul Papas, former head of IBM's Life Sciences practice and a past partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, has been at the helm since the beginning.
During the most recent IBM Smarter Commerce Summit in Nashville, Papas spoke about the power of consumer-driven technologies and their impact on the enterprise. "Mobile, social, and digital are fundamentally changing the way we run our world," he said.
IBM Smarter Commerce has yielded more than $3 billion in acquisitions, with "more to come," Papas noted. Key acquisitions that broadened the breadth of IBM's WebSphere Commerce platform included Unica, Coremetrics, and Sterling Commerce.
Last year, IBM acquired TeaLeaf Technology, a customer experience analytics solution that enables e-businesses and retailers to track where customers drop off in a commerce journey and where they can add more personalized offers and discounts to drive the sale.
This fall, IBM Smarter Commerce introduced a multipurpose cloud-based suite, IBM Marketing Center, combining the capabilities of Coremetrics, Tealeaf, DemandTec, and Unica to power personalized pricing, promotions, and offers, as well as email targeting and marketing campaign analytics.
A defining achievement was the IBM Customer Experience Lab, a collaborative venue for IBM researchers, business consultants, and clients for ideation and prototype development around Smarter Commerce initiatives.
In addition to the Customer Experience Lab, IBM Interactive, which plays a key role in Smarter Commerce strategy, has served clients for more than 16 years, and is lauded as one of the largest digital agencies in the world. Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation Research, is "impressed with how far IBM Interactive and consulting have worked...to create seamless customer experiences between software and services."
Papas tells CRM that "it's a really exciting place...because any client that has a challenge or wants to do something innovative in customer experience, we're bringing IBM Interactive, the Customer Experience Lab, Watson [technology]...no one else has that combination."
The numbers back it up. According to a Nucleus Research note released in March, for every dollar spent on an IBM Smarter Commerce initiative, companies achieved an average of $12.05 in return.
Nucleus found that Smarter Commerce projects "delivered...top-line and bottom-line benefits," with about 60 percent of return stemming indirectly from things such as productivity, and the remainder stemming from direct savings, such as reduced operational costs.
Papas says change is inevitable and innovation is a must. "Digital, social, and mobile are disrupting everyone," he maintains. "Everyone is trying to figure this out."—Kelly Liyakasa
Mark Hurd, Copresident, Oracle
The Chief Change Officer
Mark Hurd has been copresident of Oracle since September 2010, and since then he has spearheaded many changes at the Redwood Shores, Calif., computer hardware and software provider.
He is steering the company into the cloud with the addition of a number of software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, and infrastructure-as-a-service offerings. The much-anticipated Fusion business software suite—pulling together many of Oracle's diverse and sometimes overlapping applications, including PeopleSoft, Siebel, JD Edwards, RightNow, and a few others—has finally materialized. Oracle is also entering the social media, mobile, and e-commerce spaces and is advancing its mix of public and private cloud offerings, on-premises solutions, and hybrid offerings.
Hurd can now boast that Oracle offers three cloud types and software in four deployment models.
His latest project is revamping Oracle's sales force, with the goal of making the company easier for customers to deal with. Under this effort, the sales force is going to get bigger, but it will also get more competent. Salespeople who used to push multiple products will now push just one, giving them more specialized knowledge.
That knowledge will come in handy as the company continues to integrate many of the products it gained in a string of recent acquisitions into the overall Oracle stack.
In March, for example, Oracle rolled together several social media and analytics products from its acquisitions of Collective Intellect, Vitrue, and Involver, among others, into the larger Oracle Social Relationship Management (SRM) platform. SRM can interact with several other Oracle products, including Oracle Fusion CRM, Oracle CRM, and Oracle RightNow Cloud Service.
Hurd and his teams are also working to integrate products from Oracle's December acquisition, for $871 million, of marketing automation provider Eloqua. That deal positions Eloqua as the centerpiece of Oracle's marketing portfolio within the larger Oracle Customer Experience Cloud.
"Oracle has had an opportunity to set the tone by making key acquisitions of RightNow, Vitrue, ATG, and Eloqua," observes Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation Research. "As Oracle acquired its way into the customer experience realm, [it is] now competing with IBM, Adobe, and Salesforce.com for the CMO budget. This is significant, given that just three years ago, most CMOs would not have known who Oracle was." —Leonard Klie