SAP To Acquire Hybris — What Does It Mean?

Peter Sheldon

After repeated false starts of trying to build its way into the enterprise eCommerce space, SAP has finally decided to do a U-turn on its strategy and buy its way in. For years there has been intense speculation that SAP might acquire hybris, and behind the scenes there has certainly been much umming and ahing over the enterprise software giant’s commerce strategy. Hybris has been on a tear recently, and until today was widely expected to file for an IPO in 2014; however, the firm’s destiny has for some time been in the hands of its VC investors (Huntsman Gay Global Capital, Meritech Capital Partners and Greylock Israel). The decision to sell to SAP was likely influenced by these VC firms who, between them, have a controlling state in the firm. The value of the acquisition has not been disclosed, but given hybris’ strong earnings over the past four quarters (the bulk of which was directly from license revenues) and with the looming path of an IPO, we can speculate that SAP paid a substantial price tag — although the terms of the transaction are likely complicated.

So the big surprise is not why, but why now? There is no single answer to this question — but we can look at the factors that have increasingly piled on the pressure for SAP to change direction and pull the trigger on this acquisition:

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Welcome Ken Calhoon to Forrester

Zia Daniell Wigder

I am incredibly excited to announce that Ken Calhoon joins Forrester today in our eBusiness consulting practice. Ken has a fantastic background working with different organizations expanding internationally: Most recently he ran his own consulting firm focused on global expansion; prior to that, he spent seven years at eBay in different positions including VP, International Headquarters and VP, International Trust and Safety.

Ken is well known for his insights and thought leadership in the global eCommerce space: I highly recommend reading his recent Harvard Business Review blog post on What US eCommerce Can Learn From Its Global Copycats.

Some additional highlights from Ken’s background:

  • He's worked internationally for twenty years - in twenty countries - and has developed a great network of business experts around the world.
  • He's worked on growth initiatives not only with large companies such as eBay, Mitsubishi, and PayPal, but also smaller ones such as Ancestry.com, Art.com and Blurb.
  • He's helped many companies with strategy and operations, based in the US and the UK, as a Bain & Company consultant.

We are thrilled to have Ken on board!

Augmented Reality - Using Games As A Marketing Tool To Drive Traffic To Your Physical Locations

Julie Ask

This is my last, "I saw this cool thing in mobile today" blog for the week.

Check out this video

The video is called "Field Trip" and shows off some of the features of Google's Field Trip app. It's a short, but extremely compelling video that shows how mobile can be used to personalize your world - whether it is a wander about the bay area (this video) or your childhood home. You can consume someone else's story or tell your own story. Not to be creepy and it isn't Halloween, but what if you could use augmented reality - digital overlay of content triggered by location or recognizing an object/symbol - of grave stones? Visiting a cemetary could be SO cool. Visting your apparel shop, grocery store, airport lounge, restaurant, bank branch, healthcare clinic could also be cool IF you use your imagination. 

Google's Ingress game layers both content and a game onto the physical world. (watch the video)

What's in it for the eBusiness professional? 

I'm not necessarily suggesting a scavenger hunt in your store. Ingress + Hint Water did pull this off - not a hunt, but what is a game that combines digital with the physical world as a game board? I remember when Starbucks ran a scavenger hunt that started with a SMS-based trivia game more than five years ago. It was a huge hit. 

Check out this campaign

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How Important Is Getting Your App On Your Customer's Phone?

Julie Ask

I'm traveling to Atlanta next week. Today - Friday - I decided late in the day to book a hotel room finally. 

I'm sitting at my desk. I'm figuring there will be some time on hold. I'm multi-tasking ... so I use my PC to do a quick search, find some nearby hotels and get a couple of phone numbers. I'll use my office phone with a headset and my hands will still be free to edit a document. 

I start with brand A. I place the first call and talk to an idiotic IVR that puts me into a doom loop. I hang up. I call back and get a person. The person can't book a discounted rate so gives me another phone number to write down. I write it down. I throw it in the trash.

I shift to brand B. I place the call to the hotel. A man answers. He transfers me to an IVR asking for my home phone number. I don't understand. I hang up. I call back. The same man answers. I said, "I think there must have been a mistake. I thought you placed me on hold, but I got dropped into an IVR." Man replies, "oh no - that IS our reservation system." I reply, "you don't have people making reservations." He replies, "No - just the hotel reservation system - the IVR." I reply, "I don't make reservations with IVR's." I hang up. (Sorry - but it's insanely tedious - at least in this case ... my home phone number??? C'mon - they don't need that to book my room)

I pick up my phone and click on my "hotel icon" to open the app. Within 2 minutes, I've booked a hotel - all of my information stored - and spent $750. 

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We Advocate Mobile-First ... But Do You Want To Be Mobile Only?

Julie Ask

The SF 49ers will soon have a new stadium in Santa Clara, CA. This May 30th article from the SF Examiner describes the new stadium as "entirely cashless and ticketless." The assumption is that "... the fans will be carrying around smartphones." "Software engineers are already building apps to order food, watch instant replays, listen to play-by-play and check bathroom lines from the seats."

As a mobile analyst, I love the concept. Has anyone every been to a conference though with thousands or tens of thousands or 68,500 people? How's your Internet connection? 

I trust they'll test this. 

Why Can't I Get Service IF I Don't Own An iPhone?

Julie Ask

There are several things that caught my attention about this article - 

 

1) The iPhone displayed as part of the overall cover story photo. The service doesn't work without a mobile phone - and in this case an iPhone. 

2) Only works - it seems - from the article for iPhone owners

Is it okay to target iPhone owners only? They representat a lucrative target and ... you can't serve every customer. You can't build for every platform. 

Provoking Tumultuous Uproar: How All Things Digital Are Disrupting the Business Of Insurance

Ellen Carney

There’s one word that sums up what’s going on in the business of insurance right now: disruption. Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with an innovation team at a Tier 1 carrier. When I asked the group if they were feeling that big changes were afoot in the industry, there was lots of head nodding. Consider just these few catalysts of change:

  • An improving economy driven by freshening winds in the US housing market.
  • Activist consumers willing to both join forces with their insurers and at the same time regulate them through the power of social media.
  • Converging physical and digital worlds that engage consumers through smart portable devices.
  • Two maturing regulatory reforms: one that reorders the molecules of the health insurance industry and the second that’s creating a new industry (and risks), namely access to medical marijuana.
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Walmart Takes Contextual, Pragmatic Approach To Mobile

Julie Ask

Walmart's Global Head of Mobile, Gibu Thomas, just got off stage here at CTIA in Las Vegas. He offered an overview of Walmart's approach to mobile which, based on our research, is dead on. It's solid. (I dropped in a partial/paraphrased transcript below; read the details if you'd like, but a summary/analysis is up top here). At times I felt like he was following our research stream because the language was so similar; he even quoted James McQuivey from 1999: "When consumers adopt new technologies, they do old things in new ways. When they internalize technology, they begin to do new things." 

(And I'll sound like a bit of a broken record here as I've said so much of this before. The difference now is that retailers like Walmart are implementing and talking about the results.) 

- Mobile opportunity ($) > eCommerce opportunity. The opportunity in mobile is not primarily mCommerce, a number that Sucharita Mulpuru and Forrester Research put at 8% of eCommerce sales in 2016. In 2016, eCommerce will be about 10% of retail sales. The mobile-influenced number at more than $700B (forecast) in the US makes mobile-influenced sales the bigger number. The opportunity in mobile is a combination of a) influencing sales ($$$) and b) giving consumers the ability to buy anywhere/anytime ($). You can't just shrink/squeeze an experience onto a small device; this is too mini-eCommerce-centric and misses the bigger opportunity. 

- Consumers who use mobile devices are more engaged and spend more. OK: there is a bit of a chicken or egg here. Do more loyal, frequent shoppers download your app? Or do consumers become more loyal once they download your app? The answer is both. At Walmart, mobile app users spend 40% more each month and make two more trips per month. Our highly engaged users spend 77% more each month and make four more trips per month than the non-mobile user.

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Google Glass -- What eBusiness Professionals Need To Know -- This Early

Julie Ask

Google Glass owners were in the minority last week at Google I/O 2013, but I still felt left out not having a pair. I was one of the “have-nots” this past week. It’s still very early days for Google Glass, but there is enough insight into the potential for eBusiness professionals to begin thinking about the possibilities. Some may argue that Google Glass is a fantasy product at $1,500 that will never take off, but a lot of people doubted the tablet and iPad as well. In any case, it's safe to assume that more and more devices will have interactive, connected displays. These displays may be flexible — they may be a wristwatch. The same thinking around highly contextual information delivered in small bits still applies. 

First session on Google Glass development was oversold, so to speak. There was standing room only with at least one overflow room. Intense. I was also fortunate to attend a women’s maker event the evening before with Jean Wang (see video of event and Jean story). She shared the history of the devices.

 

I’m sitting in the “Fireside Chat” session as I type this blog post. I can literally feel the temperature rising as the bodies crowd in. It’s 15 minutes before the start . . . and they are already turning people away. It’s intense, like trying to get into Iron Man 3 on the opening weekend. There can’t possibly be a product attracting more attention right now.

Vision for Google Glass: “Technology is there when you need it. It’s not when you don’t.”

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Context Is King In Mobile

Julie Ask

 

If you are at the deYoung museum in San Francisco and do a search on “painting,” you might be looking for a Van Gogh. If you are in Home Depot and do a search on “painting,” you likely need supplies for your weekend project.

 

I heard the term “invisible search terms” today at Google I/O in the Indoor Location session. While you may not type in “Impressionism” or “supplies” with paint, a smart application – or search function, in this case – can take a pretty good guess at what you want based on where you are.

 

In a report I wrote in 2011, I talked about layering intelligence on top of location – yes, you have my lat/long, but what does it mean? And how do you use that intelligence to make services and content relevant to me?

 

I’m at Google I/O, and the discussion continues around how to use context to make applications smarter.