Well, it is already more than two weeks ago that this news hit the wires, but SAP announced the acquisition of Gigya, a leading Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) platform vendor. Gigya got placed in the top position of Forrester’s Wave for Customer Identity and Access Management Platforms Q2 2017, a position that is owned by SAP, if the company manages to address customer (and hence analyst) concerns that arise from the merger.
SAP, in turn, with its SAP Hybris branded software, provides a suite of commerce and engagement solutions that allow organizations to build and leverage in real time a 360 degree view on the customer, across channels and devices.
Gigya is an SAP (Hybris) partner since 2013 or so, and has integrations with SAP Hybris Ecommerce, SAP Hybris Marketing and SAP CRM.
SAP intends to make the Gigya platform part of its Hybris portfolio.
The transaction is expected to be closed by end of 2017.
The Bigger Picture
The CIAM market is evolving fast, coming out of the area of providing social logins with the purpose of simplifying web site logins only a decade ago. This purpose remains but along with solving registration problems there are now a lot regulation challenges that are to be addressed. Just think, management of consent and preferences across sites, or GDPR, which imposes data residence requirements on top.
With the additional data collection capabilities of CIAM solutions there is quite an upside for CRM vendors — especially for ones with strong marketing automation and profiling capabilities, like SAP. There is an increased ability to accurately address individual customers based upon their behaviour and across devices, therefore improving engagement capabilities, which in turn serve the goal of better experiences.
This will become more and more important in an emerging IoT world, where a user will have many devices. The combination of managing logins with profiling enables moving IoT scenarios away from being device centric to becoming customer centric. This is more of a revolution than of an evolution.
My PoV and Analysis
This acquisition is a great move by SAP because it improves SAP’s solution portfolio on at least two dimenstions:
- SAP now is a considerable CIAM player
- CiAM adds important glue to the current offerings
SAP itself so far is not known for its abilities in the area of Identity Management — especially outside of SAP applications. With acquiring Gigya this changed. After completing the transaction SAP boosted itself from a nobody into the CIAM pole position.
The acquisition nicely rounds off the Hybris suite of products and adds something that Microsoft acquired with LinkedIn, or Google and Facebook have natively: Data about preference and behaviour of customers, across many sites. This data does not only allow for increased profiling capabilities that enable a more accurate and relevant customer engagement; it also forms an invaluable source for additional, data based offerings, from Data as a Service to the delivery of AI as a service. This, in turn fits into the Leonardo concept.
Thinking further than ‘just’ Hybris, SAP now has a software that can help modernizing its own (internal) identity and access management and something that can be used as an improved SSO.
There may be some benefit for the GDPR offerings of SAP, but then especially requests to delete personal data regularly need to be fulfilled in several business systems, so I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on this topic. SAP already had the technological foundations for this before the acquisition.
On the concern side we will see how Gigya moves on from a (trusted) independent vendor to become part of a larger entity. This certainly has the potential of introducing some bias and raises questions like: How will other vendors’ software still be supported? Think of marketo, to name but one. SAP needs to provide reliable guidance to Gigya prospects and customers — as well as partners — fast. I can already see a tsunami of FUD being created.
Where I do perceive a real issue is the direction the CIAM market itself seems to take. It looks like being built upon an inside-out thought that targets at delivering benefits to the businesses and seems to address customer/consumer interests only as an afterthought. A solution that focuses on adding value to companies by being valuable to their customers’ needs to be built around the outside-in notion that all collected data first and foremost belongs to the customers/consumers instead of selling more accurate targeting of ads as a value to them.
The inside-out notion can be read in the Forrester report and becomes abundantly clear in Gigya CEO Patrick Salyer’s statement that got quoted in the SAP announcement:
“Combining the data matching and enrichment capabilities of Sap Hybris Profile with Gigya’s consent-based identity data and access management platform will allow us to identify consumers across channels and offer a robust single consumer profile. This is a vital step for digitalizing businesses because companies need to be able to draw accurate conclusions seamlessly across all channels, including web, mobile, in-store or connected devices, and the Internet of Things, as well as collect data about consumer preferences. Together we are well positioned to drive more effective marketing, sales and service through data, while the customer stays in control of how much data is shared.”
The consumer as an afterthought — and we all know what choices usually are offered to consumers: Accept our terms or go away.
SAP now has the chance to prove me wrong.