This article originally appeared in the Jan./Feb. 2013 issue of CUSTOMER magazine.
While the general consumer swoons over the latest device whether it is a tablet, smartphone or even phablet, the serious work often gets done when smart devices hook into the backend systems that corporations use to control everything from manufacturing to CRM and human resources. The reality is there are great gadgets and apps we hear about all the time, but when it comes to the things that make companies more competitive and profitable, we often don’t get to see the ink and electrons devoted to them.
About three years ago SAP (News - Alert) started making a major play into the mobile space – hoping to be the company allowing corporations to securely provide mobile solutions to employees, customers and partners. Through a partnership with RIM, and acquisitions of Syclo and Sybase (News - Alert), the company’s goal has been to provide a mobile platform that hooks into backend enterprise systems in a secure manner – allowing them to deploy innovative apps and services more quickly.
Recently I had a chance to speak with Nicholas Brown, a senior VP with SAP, and he walked me through the progress the company is making in mobile as well as helping its customers serve their customers more effectively. He talked about how the company’s investment not only in mobile but cloud and big data have intersected, allowing companies to more effectively determine which customers are using what device and how best to reach them.
Moreover his company has an ecosystem of app developers helping his customers address the plethora of mobile opportunities available to them.
Some of SAP’s most recent mobile news is the launch of six new apps on Windows 8 devices. Brown said: “This revolution is going to be beyond Apple (News - Alert) and Android.” He continued: “I think Windows is going to be a big player in that market.” He further explained that Windows is a natural fit if you look at his company’s customer base – where lots of money has been spent developing Windows apps. He believes Windows 8 will be a natural extension of the platform.
One of the company’s most innovative offerings is SAP Precision Retailing, which combines analytics, a predictive engine in the cloud, and the company’s HANA in-memory database to analyze a variety of information about a persona. Buying habits, demographics and POS information are then analyzed to suggest offers to make to a person in an effort to get that individual to purchase a cup of coffee or other product.
While the company thought this solution would be great for retailers, it was a bit taken aback when Societe de Transport de Montreal, the largest public transit corporation in Québec and provider of more than 1.2 million public transit trips per day, became one of its customers. STM selected SAP to generate new revenue streams, increase customer satisfaction, and bolster ridership.
“Given SAP’s great credibility as a partner, we are very confident we will be able to meet and exceed our goals with SAP Precision Retailing,” said Denise Vaillancourt, executive director at STM. “STM was named best public transit system in North America in 2010, and by partnering with retailers, other transportation partners such as taxis and entertainment and media providers, we will be able to bring personalized content and offers to our 1 million OPUS Card users who are always on the move and looking to understand what’s nearby, what’s happening and where to find help for daily activities. SAP Precision Retailing is at the heart of this real-time, geo-localized and personalized, brand and consumer experience, driving traffic from the streets to the store or to the next consumer experience. STM will be starting a pilot program this fall initially with 20,000 transit users and once the product is fully tested, we will open it to all Montreal OPUS Card holders.”
A great feature of the system is it allows retailers to make offers to riders based on their location. Imagine having a special which is offered when there is a delay on the track for example. Then there is the ability for retailers to pull in customers on weekends with special offers, which benefits the retailer and the subway system.
You might not have expected the CMO of a public transit system to deploy such cutting-edge solutions which leverage the latest technology to delight customers and increase sales. But in response to the news, the question worth asking yourself is if the subway in Canada can do this, why aren’t you? Hats off to STM and SAP for showing us the future of mobile CRM and commerce.
Edited by Brooke Neuman