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How can SAP Hybris help the utilities industry?

As competition from alternative energy sources encroaches on utility companies' stronghold, their need to create positive relationships with customers is more important than ever.

Today's utility companies are facing competition from alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar, which...

means that customer relationship management is more important than ever.

Implementing SAP Hybris, a cloud-based e-commerce software with the ability to cater to customers' omnichannel needs, can help utility companies better target their sales, marketing and customer service.

SAP Hybris integrates digital and physical interactions -- such as online, mobile, social media, point of sale (or walk-in), call center or print -- onto a single platform to deliver products and provide end-to-end services. While SAP Hybris can be implemented as a stand-alone application, it can also integrate with a company's existing customer relationship management (CRM) software, and even with an ERP system, such as SAP ERP Central Component, by communicating data to and from disparate systems through plug-ins and connectors.

SAP Hybris is available for business-to-customer and business-to-business interactions. In addition, although the focus here is on utility companies, it can be implemented in a vast array of industries and lines of business.

The following five products of SAP Hybris provide end-to-end business technology to utility companies:

  • Commerce software gives companies the ability to create products and services catalogs from which customers can pick and choose. Take, for example, a customer who wants to buy solar panels, and who also needs installation services. The utility company can send its representative for an on-site visit to ascertain the scope of work. The Commerce software enables the representative to give the customer a price quote, as well as a quote of the time and effort involved.
  • Marketing software enables companies to integrate their various marketing initiatives, such as advertisements in print, electronic or social media, and gives them the ability to track which marketing efforts are converting into sales.

    SAP Hybris recently acquired Abakus, a company that extensively tracks all marketing initiatives to assess which efforts are yielding the most conversions (and which aren't), and which provides significant analytics on avenues in which a company's marketing budget is well spent.

  • Sales software empowers the sales team throughout the selling cycle. It gives customers an easy way to find information on a company's product or service and, in addition, it captures information about the customer for the sales team. The software also offers a way to create and submit quotes, create orders, make any last-minute changes on orders, and it also tracks all stages of the order, such as the product's or service's delivery.

    For example, SAP Hybris Sales makes it easier for utility companies to target customers and offer additional products or services for sales, such as preapproved contractors authorized to install solar or wind products on a customer's home.

  • Services software enables customers to request a return, replacement or refund for the delivered products or services with a hassle-free experience, which, in turn, boosts the likelihood that customers will recommend the company to others.

    The Services software also helps promote better customer relationships through features such as informing customers in advance when a periodic maintenance or calibration of the utility meter is due.

  • Billing software helps to ensure timely and error-free billing for the delivered products or services. It also provides different payment options to customers, including automatic payment or the use of payment cards.

    Using internet of things (IoT) sensors and other IoT technology, companies can provide billing insights to customers, such as which electronics items are consuming the most electricity and which aren't used, or are even wasted.

    For example, net metering credits owners of solar energy for electricity they add to grid energy. A residential consumer with solar panels installed on their house's rooftop can generate more electricity in daylight hours than the house can consume. With net metering, the meter runs backward for a customer credit, and begins supplying home-produced electricity back to the grid. When consumers use more electricity than they generate from a solar source, such as at night or during winter, the meter returns to regular operation by supplying electricity to the consumer from the grid. In other words, net metering enables consumers to pay only for the net electricity they consume.

While SAP Hybris is the central component, Hybris as a service (also referred to as YaaS) enables companies to opt for microservices, wherein they can implement individual products, such as SAP Hybris Marketing and Cloud for Customer, as well as integrate several ERP and analytics apps.

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