Engaging with customers via social media is now standard practice for consumer industries. This typically involves marketing professionals paying close attention to hashtags and mentions of a company’s name or products, then responding directly when appropriate. During the SAP TechEd 2018 Keynote in Las Vegas, SAP showed how it is using its Intelligent Enterprise—the integration of its next-generation product set—to automate that interaction with the customer and direct them to a point-of-sale.
SAP’s live demo expert, Ian Kimball, took the SAP TechEd crowd through an example of how a pre-built image recognition API from the SAP API Business Hub can be used to identify when a social media user sends out a picture of your product—in this example, that product is a car.
The image recognition API enables the SAP system to automatically identify the picture of the car and send tweet to the user directly with a link to an augmented reality app which allows the potential customer to configure the car to their preferred specifications, and even order a car. That information is sent to the salesperson, who can then complete the order and sent it out to be manufactured.
Maintaining Customer Engagement
Keeping a customer engaged is often just as important as that initial sale. In the case of ordering a car that has yet to be manufactured, it could be months before it arrives. To keep the good vibes flowing between customer and company, SAP introduced SAP Cloud Platform Functions-as-a-Service, built on the Kubernetes tool Gardener.
Functions-as-a-Service provides pre-programmed events that can be taken and built into a service using SAP Web IDE integration. There’s a wizard that creates a folder schedule with the key variables, including customer name
For the car example, the event would be an update to a production order, which the deployed function can then send to the customer via their social media platform of choice. So, when the customer’s car gets spray-painted, the picture is sent off and engagement is continued.
Previously, this process would require developing a JAVA app that regularly pulls APIs and asks for strategy, but SAP calls the Function-as-a-Service method more “elegant” and during the live demo, it took around four minutes to deploy.
Applications for Consumer Industries
Now, the idea of someone buying a car through a tweet is cool from a car company’s perspective but does seem a little bit far-fetched (for now). However, it is much easier to see how the technology could apply to many other consumer goods that people regularly purchase online—shoes and other clothing, furniture, electronics, and more.
Imagine a customer taking a picture of a pair of shoes and sending out a tweet that says “Cool shoes!” Image recognition could identify the shoes, and automatically send an offer to buy them.
This is SAP’s goal when it envisions the Intelligent Enterprise–multiple components of software and technology integrated together to provide a next level of smart automation that drives return on investment. In this case, there are systems such as SAP S/4HANA and SAP C/4HANA working with pre-built APIs from the SAP API Business Hub and pre-programmed functions from the SAP Cloud Platform.
The ability to tie all of that data and back-end technology together can enable companies in the consumer industries to provide unique experiences and seek out customers in new places, with minimal effort from sales staff. The key on SAP’s side will be ensuring the platform and software is open to integration. On the partner side, we make that integration happen.