The move to build AI capabilities into application software has been one of the most important developments to wash through the technology sector in the last few years.
Whether it is Adobe’s Marketing Cloud and Sensei, or Salesforce’s CRM and Einstein, the integration of AI into business functionality has arrived surprisingly quickly – after decades of incubation in universities and computer science labs.
SAP’s Chris Hauca, Head of Strategy and GTM, SAP Enterprise Commerce, SAP Customer Experience, spoke to Which-50 at the recent SAP Customer Experience Live conference in Barcelona and we started by asking where his company was putting its initial efforts.
“We started with the personalisation,” said Hauca. “That was the leading candidate for us.”
“It was the obvious place for us to start,” he said. “So delivering more personalised offers, promotions, content, and product recommendations.”
According to Hauca, it is important to personalise the overall experience. “When a customer hits a site, the content that’s there needs to be relevant to them, and relevant to them at that moment in time.”
Indeed it is the whole concept of ‘in the moment’ that Hauca argues can be very greatly improved and leveraged by AI. “That’s a cornerstone for us, but it doesn’t stop there.”
He also cited product information management (PIM) and product content as good candidates for augmentation through AI.
“Building those rich product catalogs is still a very manual effort. You’re pulling in data from ERPs and potentially from suppliers and other third parties. Now think about something as simple as a description field for a product. Maybe if you used other terms, the kind of terms that customers are searching for, you could deliver much more relevant results, and those, in turn, will drive more conversions.”
There are a lot of possibilities for applying AI to PIM, such as classifying the product data or defining the taxonomies, or the hierarchies, he said. “AI could be used to streamline the manual effort that is currently required from product managers and business users by augmenting the content.”
Hauca also suggested distribution management was an area where AI could deliver improvements. “This is an area where AI can help us make tonnes of progress as an industry.”
“We’re looking at it really, really holistically when it comes to commerce and we’re very excited about the opportunities and the doors that that opens.”
Finally, Hauca suggested, that like its rivals at Oracle and Salesforce, SAP was looking into chatbots.
“This is typically an area that falls a little bit outside of the realm of commerce. However, we will also be looking to commercialise our chatbots sooner rather than later, starting with a new one next year.“
He said the company is looking at leveraging it’s the conversational AI capabilities that it picked up with its acquisition of Recast.ai earlier this year.