Adobe, Microsoft and SAP pitch for seamless customer data integration with new initiative

The trio of software vendors join forces on a new open data initiative aimed at creating a common data language and access across their respective business and marketing platforms

Adobe, SAP and Microsoft have joined forces in a new Open Data Initiative (ODI) which the vendor trio say will shake-up customer experience delivering by allowing clients to combine and harness data from across their respective technology platforms.

The ODI is about building a common approach and set of resources enabling all three vendors’ customers to tap into insights from unified behavioural and operational data in real time. The initiative isn’t just restricted to marketing systems, but extends across product development, operations, finance, sales and human resources platforms as well.

Through the initiative, the vendors are promising clients the ability to unlock and harmonised siloed data sets, bi-directionally move transactional, operation, customer or Internet of Things (IoT) data to and from a common data lake based on preferences and needs, create digital feedback loops while enabling more integrated security and privacy compliance initiatives, and build and adopt applications that natively take data and metadata from services offered by Adobe, SAP, Microsoft and their partner ecosystems.

To deliver on the ODI, the three vendors are enhancing interoperability and data exchange between their respective enterprise platforms - Adobe Experience Cloud, Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM, SAP C/4HANA and S/4HANA - using a common data model. This will be supported by a common data lake service based on Microsoft’s Azure cloud offering.

Customers will also be able to choose development tools and applications from a unified data store to build and deploy services.

In a statement, Adobe CEO, Shantanu Narayen, said the partnership aims to progress the customer experience management category by giving enterprises the ability to action hefty volumes of customer data for personalised engagement at scale.

“Together with Adobe and SAP, we are taking a first, critical step to helping companies achieve a level of customer and business understanding that has never before been possible,” Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, continued. “Organisations everywhere have a massive opportunity to build AI-powered digital feedback loops for predictive power, automated workflows and ultimately, improved business outcomes.”

Adobe and Microsoft have been steadily working to build integration across their respective software offerings as part of an alliance first struck in 2015. The initial deal saw integration work occur across Marketing Cloud and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

In 2016, Adobe transitioned its Experience Cloud, Creative Cloud and Document Cloud offerings to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, and became the preferred marketing service for Microsoft Dynamics 365 business applications. At the time, the two companies began collaborating on data integrations to ensure customers could seamlessly work across Adobe Marketing Cloud and Dynamic 365.

ODI represents the latest step towards integration across the two platforms.

Getting on top of the data integration problem was also flagged by Narayen during his presentation at Adobe Marketing Summit earlier this year. At that time, he highlighted four areas Adobe is investing in to compete, the first being the issue of taxonomy, or “language of the enterprise”.

“We need to work to define a unified customer profile and common taxonomy to make seamless across every system in the enterprise,” he told attendees in March.

As a step forward across its own Experience Cloud, Adobe introduced a unified ‘Experience profile’ earlier this year based on common data language and standardisation of all customer data across its software tools. This provides users with the ability to create a unified customer record across all Adobe software tools.

SAP is arguably the other big stalwart of the enterprise software market, and offers both business and marketing solutions. SAP CEO, Bill McDermott, said the vendors recognised customer experience no longer restricted to a sales conversation.

“CEOs are breaking down the silos of the status quo so they can get all people inside their companies focused on serving people outside their companies. With the open data initiative, we will help businesses run with a true single view of the customer,” he said.

In the release, several customers showed their support for the ODI. Coca-Cola CIO, Barry Simpson, for example, described the initiative as an important and strategic development for the FMCG giant’s system.

“Our digital growth plans centre around our customers are fuelled by these platforms and open standards,” he stated. “A more unified approach to the management and control of our data strengthens our ability to support our growth agenda and our ability to satisfy security, privacy and GDPR compliance requirements,” he said.

Unilever CIO, Jane Moran, also applauded the ODI, adding it was an important undertaking from the three vendors.

“This will help us re-imagine customer experience management by bringing together data across our entire organisation to build more direct, meaningful relationships with consumers in real time,” she said.  

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