Customer Experience

SAP’s New Jam Communities Promise Stickier Customer Experience

SAP this week released SAP Jam Communities edition forHybris, which delivers real-time product- and service-related information to customers on company websites.

The software can display personally relevant recommendations and reviews directly to customers in e-commerce stores.

It’s for customers using the SAP Hybris Commerce solution, but “the SAP Jam Communities product can integrate with many different online experiences,” said Steve Hamrick, vice president of product management at SAP.

SAP customers “often have more than 15 different digital experiences for their customers, so we focused on making it easy to syndicate and push community content and functionality to any of those customer experiences in a simple and seamless way,” he told CRM Buyer.

In essence, Jam Communities lets companies embed access to relevant material and include a buy button with it in online customer community pages whose members discuss a product.

Further, it lets companies avoid flooding customers with information, giving them the flexibility of bringing “just the right amount of community content” forward into their online storefront, Hamrick said.

More on Spreading the Jam

Jam Communities is “the equivalent of being able to bring the right information and connection with experts in a community to help move a customer from one stage to another in their purchasing journey,” he said.

These stages include awareness, consideration, purchase, postpurchase support and advocacy.

“Our research has shown that the journey of a customer can vary from case to case,” Hamrick pointed out.

Jam Communities will “bring social and collaborative capabilities out of the box to customers’ existing Hybris Commerce initiatives and allow them to quickly and easily embed community-generated content and collaboration capabilities to any of the online digital properties to manage,” he remarked.

SAP built and architected Jam Communities from the ground up on an architecture complementary to the SAP HANA Cloud platform and Hybris as a Service platforms. It has JavaScript-based APIs to embed community capabilities into any experience.

The software also lets employees engage in discussions with members of a community, Hamrick said, and “we’ve worked out how conversations could be moved from a public forum into a private working space between an employee and a potential customer.”

Many SAP customers already drive online Web traffic to blog posts or other community experiences, but these “are a dead end today,” he said. “Sometimes bloggers don’t reference the right product names; sometimes the model or part number is missing.”

Hard Sell

“I’m not sure this is a good idea for using community,” said Denis Pombriant, principal atBeagle Research Group.

Community “is supposed to be a place where people can go and express their real opinions and ask questions, and not be sold to,” he told CRM Buyer. “I’m not sure combining this [with selling] is a good thing.”

Changing the CRM World

Some CRM solutions offer equivalent functions now but are not flexible and API-driven enough, and are more difficult to configure, Hamrick said. Also, they fail to bring commerce information into the community experience and lack insights drawn from conversations and conversions driven by community content.

Jam Communities “appears to provide stronger customer interaction and metrics” than existing CRM packages, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at theEnderle Group.

The information is more granular, which “should result in getting the information needed to build stronger campaigns and perhaps better product offerings over time,” he told CRM Buyer.

By offering a “much tighter, higher-quality focus on extracting key elements that should define and categorize a customer far more effectively,” Enderle said, Jam Communities “should increase the competitive tension between [CRM providers] as they move to match this offering.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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