by Ben Rund, Kalyan Vajapeyajula & Rob Stowell
Evolution of SAP Hybris
When eCommerce first began to boom in the late 20th century, many new software solutions entered the market to manage the increased data needs required for online selling. Hybris was one such successful venture, offering master data management and unified commerce solutions. In 2013, SAP expanded their portfolio by acquiring Hybris, re-branding it as SAP Commerce Cloud.
Hybris was built for eCommerce and provided SAP an installed base of customers to extend their services into capabilities for Product Content Management (PCM), which was terminology that later evolved into Product information Management, or PIM. Today, Hybris is reaching the end of its life as an application, no longer supported in SAP Commerce Cloud. Master Data Management (MDM) and PIM systems have always had a significant edge over eCommerce systems across a variety of dimensions, but that advantage has never been more pronounced than now.
Importance of MDM and PIM
Master Data Management is a key enabler for commerce, uniting accurate, consistent, and reliable data across an organization’s operations. In the realm of commerce, where data flows rapidly between suppliers, distributors, retailers, and customers, MDM ensures that the right information is available at the right time. This cohesion eliminates discrepancies, minimizes errors, and optimizes processes, fostering an environment where informed decisions can be made swiftly and where customer experiences remain seamless and gratifying. By serving as the guardian of data integrity, MDM not only enhances operational efficiency but also cultivates trust among partners and customers, ultimately bolstering an enterprise’s competitiveness and its capacity to navigate the complexities of modern commerce.
Product master data encapsulates a comprehensive, organized repository of vital information about each item a business offers. This includes attributes like descriptions, specifications, pricing, availability, and relationships with other products. Such data coherence is pivotal for efficient inventory management, accurate order fulfillment, and consistent multichannel experiences. With well-maintained product master data by a PIM, businesses can swiftly adapt to market trends, introduce new products seamlessly, and ensure that customers are presented with reliable information regardless of their touchpoints. This not only reduces the risk of errors and customer dissatisfaction but also fuels the engine of commerce by empowering streamlined processes, confident decision-making, and the agility to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of consumer demands.
Why Syndigo PIM/MDM is superior to eCommerce systems like SAP Commerce Cloud (Hybris)
While Hybris was a success story in eCommerce, its PIM capabilities today are far behind more modern cloud-based enterprise solutions like Syndigo in various important factors, such as:
- Enrichment of Master Data of Product for sales and marketing
- Data Governance and Business Process Management to allow the right people do the right things
- Enhanced Data Quality Profiling for Product Data with a complexity in the data model and dependency
- Adherence to Industry Standards for Product Data and Data Syndication
- Data Synchronization with Increased Agility
- Technology Architecture
- And most recently, end-of-Life Risk
Product Data Enrichment
It is critical that whatever MDM technology that organization uses, allows modelling the data structure for ‘mastering’ product data as per the needs of the organization. This data model would typically include basic product details, sales and marketing information about products, media attachments, features and attributes, product classification hierarchy, purchase prices and selling prices, logistics and consignment/shipment details, competitor analysis data.
The data model should support the ability to qualify data attributes by Supplier, Sales Channel, Market/Region. The data model should also support internationalization by way of managing data in multiple languages and currencies.
Many of these attributes are not included in the data model of the eCommerce platforms, as compared to the data model defined in MDM. Furthermore, minimal support is available in out-of-the-box data models to extend it to include the qualified fields or product attributes, which are qualified by custom attributes like Brand, Supplier or Market/Region. For instance, it is possible to manage purchase prices qualified by Region and Supplier, in a true MDM.
Syndigo MDM also provides the capability for staging supplier data in individual supplier catalogs, which can be merged into a common Master Catalog. In eCommerce platforms, however, the data model does not provide any guidelines for managing catalogs within a paradigm of “multiple suppliers – single master catalog”. Moreover, restricting the design to maintain a single Master Catalog in eCommerce platforms impacts their ability to support multiple sites, where each web site requires one Online Catalog assigned to it.
Data Governance and Business Process Management
Syndigo MDM supports workflow management, which makes it possible to design and model even the most complex workflows. It is out of box and delivers data quality results and tasks, makes it possible to best utilize the workflow and business-rule features like conditional branching, loops, decisions, message & timer-driven interrupts which comes in handy when designing use cases for product data governance. Governance is an important function to maintain data quality, and it is essential not just in MDM but also in ERP, PLM and most critical functions.
For most agile and well laid-out business processes, it is essential that both workflows engine and data quality management are an incremental part of MDM. These engines, when brought together, allow and support modelling of business processes for managing product data, with the purpose of achieving higher degrees of compliance and data quality, without comprising on the Business Agility.
On the other hand, most of the eCommerce apps have integrated bespoke workflow engines which are more suitable for modelling simpler linear workflows. Extending these frameworks to design more elaborate and dependable workflows for data governance, would prove to be a high effort initiative.
Enhanced Data Quality Profiling for Product Data
With Syndigo MDM, data quality rules can be designed and implemented as an incremental part of the system. However, with most eCommerce platforms, data quality rules are required to be implemented as part of the application code. This means that any changes to these rules require controlled application code releases and down time. This reduces the ability for technology to support the desired levels of business agility, to perform ongoing changes and improvements to the data quality rules and/or reports.
Adherence to Industry Standards for Product Data and Data Syndication
Most eCommerce platforms, since they are focused on managing product data for eCommerce store fronts, have relatively lesser focus towards data standardization and data exchange in a true omnichannel commerce format. Hence, these platforms provide limited out of the box support for industry standards. This results in a lack of being able to effectively manage a single unified view of the product, adhering to different industry standards.
On the other hand, Syndigo MDM provides out-of-the-box support, software development kits and accelerators for implementation of several data standards and data exchange standards–including integration with GS1 GDSN data pool, and 1,800+ global marketplaces, including Amazon and many others. MDM users and Product Managers can associate a product under multiple product classification hierarchies (taxonomies). This approach for managing product data also ensures a single view for products, even when the product exists under multiple classification hierarchies.
Data Synchronization with Increased Agility
Syndigo MDM is also capable of importing multiple format data files like XML, CSV, MS Excel, character de-limited file formats. Administrators can define several import mappings for one-time or repeated usage, manually or automated within the system. Setting up a new import mapping for even the data files with custom schema definitions, does not require any downtime or application version releases.
An enterprise PIM like Syndigo also provides a powerful framework for exporting product data in any data formats including CSV, XML, character de-limited, JSON, HTML. Implementation for these export processes also does not require any down time or application version releases. Administrators can set up and schedule exports, using custom and OOB export format templates.
ECommerce platforms, on the other hand, provide limited out of the box support for data imports and exports. The out of box capability available is with prime focus towards consuming and exporting the data for storefronts or applications that are part of its own platform. Data exchange with other third-party systems then requires point-to-point integration with the third-party systems. Implementing and maintaining these integration adapters could prove to effort and cost intensive over time. These point-to-point integrations also reduce reusability and modularity in the architecture and hence significantly impact the business agility due to increased complexity of architecture during the upgrades.
MACH is an industry standard describing modern technology. It stands for: Microservices based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS and Headless. Syndigo’s adherence to these principles gives enterprises confidence they are choosing best-in-class vendors that can deliver future-proof technology since the goal is to decouple PI production and storage from PI recipients (web, channel, internal) in order to minimize technical debt across the stack. Platforms may come and go but decoupled architecture leads to fit-for-purpose future-proofed processes.
Syndigo’s architecture also allows for the following benefits over SAP Commerce Cloud:
- Fewer complications during installation, customization, and maintenance
- Scalability with regards to products, users, and workflow
- Integration with other systems like ERP, CRM, or other eCommerce systems.
Hybris (and SAP in general) are products that trigger large technical debt.
Risks with Hybris PCM PIM Reaching End-of-Life
When an old software solution like Hybris PCM reaches its end-of-life (EOL) status, even if the EOL is a few years away (like, 2026 for Hybris), it can pose several risks for customers who are still using it. Here are some of the potential risks:
- No More Updates or Support: Once a software reaches the end of its practical usability, the vendor typically stops releasing updates, patches, and bug fixes. This means that customers may be vulnerable to new threats and exploits, and connections with other software may be hindered as updates are no longer supported. Without vendor support, customers don’t have access to technical assistance or troubleshooting help.
- Security Vulnerabilities: As the software becomes outdated, security vulnerabilities may emerge, making it an attractive target for hackers and cyberattacks. Since the vendor will no longer address these issues, customer data and sensitive information could be at risk.
- Compatibility Issues: As other technologies and systems evolve, old EOL software may become incompatible with newer operating systems, databases, and hardware. This can lead to integration problems and hinder the smooth functioning of the overall IT infrastructure.
- Limited Functionality: Over time, customer needs and market demands will change. EOL software may lack the latest features and functionalities required to keep up with evolving business requirements, resulting in reduced efficiency and competitiveness.
- Regulatory Compliance Concerns: Depending on the industry, certain regulations and compliance standards may require regular updates and security measures. Using EOL software might lead to non-compliance, exposing the organization to potential legal and financial risks.
- Decreased Performance and Reliability: Without regular updates and maintenance, the software’s performance may degrade over time. This could result in slower response times, system crashes, and a negative impact on business operations.
- Lack of Vendor Support: With EOL software, there will be no avenue for customers to request new features, improvements, or customizations from the vendor. This lack of support can hinder growth and innovation within the organization.
- Skills and Knowledge Gap: As the software becomes obsolete, finding skilled personnel who can work with and maintain the EOL solution may become difficult. The organization may face a knowledge gap as existing experts move on to other technologies.
What smart decision makers do
To address these risks, customers using EOL software like Hybris PCM should consider migrating to a supported and up-to-date alternative. This may involve selecting a new product information management system with active vendor support, modern features, and enhanced security measures. Proper planning and execution of the migration process will ensure minimal disruption to the business and protect the organization from the risks associated with using an outdated and unsupported software solution. The challenge of updating an older EOL system might seem difficult, but Syndigo can have organizations up and running in a matter of a few weeks or months.
Realizing that your ecommerce application is in EOL stage might be a tough situation to deal with. But with proper planning and research, and with a partner like Syndigo, organizations can better prepare for the next stage in their growth and continued success.