By Alex Soto, Editor, SAPinsider
With evolving consumer expectations and behaviors and dynamic shifts in business and society, marketing organizations often sit at the tip of the digital transformation spear.
Specifically, chief marketing officers (CMO) are under pressure to transform their digital marketing strategies to better meet customer demands, elevate their organizations’ brands, and support business growth.
According to Aneesh Kumar, Senior Director of Digital Solutions at Epsilon, C-suite individuals typically have a high-level business view of the digital marketing transformation journey, but often need technical support along the way.
“We have to be that liaison to help them connect the dots between the technology and the business,” Kumar says. He adds that Epsilon often uses SAP technology to help support its customer-focused mission.
In order to adapt to its customers’ evolving data needs, Epsilon once again relied on SAP technology by developing a single environment using a multi-tenant SAP HANA Cloud solution capable of handling multiple streams of data efficiently and quickly. This allows the company to ingest customer data quickly, scale up as needed, and improve costs and resources.
At the same time, the speed of SAP HANA’s in-memory capabilities helps Epsilon deliver maximum business value for customers by providing deeper analytics on-demand — including predictive analytics — for optimized campaign and customer relationship management (CRM) offerings.
Digital transformation starts from within
Epsilon’s approach to ensure optimal data and analytics capabilities for its customers required meeting a two-pronged goal: to digitally transform Epsilon’s customer implementation processes and support the changing data needs of customers using SAP technology.
Kumar explains that prior to developing its single, streamlined SAP architecture, Epsilon’s different technologies across various data systems made implementing new projects every time a new client came on board an arduous task.
Aneesh Kumar, Senior Director of Digital Solutions, Epsilon
Today, Epsilon runs SAP HANA Cloud on AWS, enabling it to support its growing database and achieve the flexibility to provision SAP HANA databases of various sizes. This capability allows Epsilon to support the individual needs of its customers while maintaining a single source of truth.
The solution also includes SAP BusinessObjects and SAP Analytics Cloud to help identify valuable business opportunities from the data and drive marketing decision-making. In addition, the team used SAP Data Services for data transformation activities.
With SAP HANA Cloud, Epsilon can apply a single solution to every client.
Empowering one customer’s marketing program with a digital core
SAP HANA Cloud works as the digital core that enables Epsilon to help its customers build more effective marketing programs.
One of Epsilon’s customers had a goldmine of data, but the data systems were not in sync with each other. The data itself was mismatched in many instances. The customer also maintained several solutions and servers, some of which may have been redundant, according to Kumar.
“The customer had several old systems and lots of disparate data, which of course presents challenges when you’re trying to run the business,” Kumar says.
The challenge presented a pivot-point moment to sync the data from disparate sources and build a system that serves as a single source of truth. Other business imperatives included improving efficiency and reducing the costs of keeping critical systems online.
“We’ve seen a lot of customers embark on their digital transformation journey by bringing together different data sources,” says Mike Coakley, Epsilon’s Vice President of Partnerships and Alliances. “They’re also trying to reduce costs as part of that process.”
Mike Coakley, Vice President of Partnerships and Alliances, Epsilon
Acquiring the customers’ executive support meant figuring out the requirements for potential solutions, according to Kumar, because CMOs typically look at digital transformation from a marketing lens.
“If we had a magic wand, what are some of the things you would like us to fix?” Kumar cites this question as an example that can help determine a customer’s needs and problems and which process could be more efficient or effective.
Epsilon’s team guided the customer through an iterative process. This included interviews with stakeholders to identify what the customer needed and find process improvement opportunities.
A primary aim was to make the data more concise, enabling the customer to achieve the same business value but with a smaller footprint solution. However, before bringing data into the SAP HANA Cloud environment, the customer’s master data — which was structured in inconsistent file formats and layouts — needed to be cleansed.
“It was like peeling back an onion a little bit,” Kumar says. He explains that the systems and databases being absorbed into SAP HANA Cloud had already been in place for years.
If data and processes are not optimized and trustworthy, an investment in SAP HANA Cloud may not pay off. The team wanted to avoid any poor habits in data management or ineffective practices being transferred directly to the new SAP HANA system. On the other hand, optimized data can strengthen a marketing organization’s core, Kumar notes.
“The customer originally had 24 different file formats. Through data cleansing, we were successful in condensing the number of file formats down to three,” Kumar says.
By simplifying the customer’s complex arrangement of disparate systems and bringing data and processes together, Epsilon built a single source of truth system for the customer using SAP HANA Cloud as the digital core.
“We help our clients look at the technology investments that are going to help them deliver the outcomes that they want,” Coakley says. “Our clients look to us to be that SAP service partner for them.”
What Does This Mean For SAPinsiders?
- Cement internal and external stakeholder sponsorship. An iterative process when developing requirements can help ensure your company’s and customers’ criteria and needs are aligned, strengthening the business case for digital transformation.
- Achieve business value with a smaller footprint. Inconsistent file formats and layouts in data systems can impact overall marketing performance, efficiency, and cost. Before developing a single source of truth system using SAP HANA Cloud, reduce data complexity through data cleansing and build effective data governance.
- Fill in the technical blanks. CMOs typically see digital transformation from a marketing perspective. They may need guidance on the technical aspects of digital transformation using SAP HANA Cloud. Ask questions that will provide clarity on what problems need to be solved or where can process improvements be made. Then, determine the technical resources to address the challenges.
Watch a short video to learn how Epsilon uses SAP HANA Cloud to empower its customers to improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing communications programs.
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Download the event presentation from Epsilon’s 2019 session, “Case Study Lessons From Epsilon’S Successful SAP Cloud Platform Implementation.”
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