SAP C/4HANA is a cloud-based customer experience and e-commerce platform. It consists of five component applications: SAP Marketing Cloud, SAP Customer Cloud, SAP Sales Cloud, SAP Service Cloud, and SAP Customer Data Cloud.

SAP C/4HANA is intended to revolutionize the CRM market by combining front-office CRM and marketing automation applications with back-end transactional ERP systems and business applications, including SAP S/4HANA, according to SAP. These applications are integrated via SAP Cloud Platform and embedded with technology like machine learning and AI via SAP Leonardo. SAP C/4HANA also integrates with SAP HANA Data Management Suite, which allows customers to collect and analyze data from various sources.

This combination of applications helps organizations gain a "360-degree" view of their customers, according to SAP. It also allows companies to gain insights and make decisions on these insights throughout the entire sales process, from identifying and developing prospects to fulfillment and payment.

SAP C/4HANA competes with Salesforce, which makes the dominant SaaS CRM application, as well as other CRM systems vendors, including Oracle and Microsoft.


The C in C/4HANA represents the customer, 4 stands for "4th generation CRM," and HANA refers to the SAP HANA in-memory database that C/4HANA runs on. The name also pairs C/4HANA with SAP S/4HANA as the core of the "intelligent enterprise."

The release of C/4HANA culminates a process SAP undertook to enter the CRM market by acquisition, starting in 2013 when SAP acquired hybris, a Germany-based enterprise CRM and marketing automation vendor. Other key acquisitions were Gigya, an identity management technology firm in 2017; CallidusCloud, a sales performance management tools vendor in 2018; and Coresystems, a field service management platform vendor in 2018.

Inside the C/4HANA portfolio

SAP C/4HANA consists of five interrelated cloud marketing and CRM applications:

  • SAP Marketing Cloud (formerly Hybris Marketing Cloud) is a SaaS marketing automation application that enables organizations to understand what their customers want and when, and then develop omnichannel campaigns to respond to those needs. SAP Marketing Cloud pulls data from a variety of sources into a single customer view. It uses advanced analytics like machine-learning algorithms and real-time processing to attempt to understand customers' intents and needs as they happen and create in-the-moment customer experiences. Companies can also use it to analyze customer interactions to determine which customers are most profitable and focus marketing efforts there. Discovery and visualization dashboards give at-a-glance insight into customer sentiments, intent and behaviors.
  • SAP Sales Cloud (originally Hybris Sales Cloud) is a mobile-first sales enablement tool that allows sales people to act more quickly on sales opportunities and have more relevant relationships with customers. A sales dashboard gives an overview of sales performance from a variety of dimensions, and uses predictive analytics to help discover new leads and prospects in existing customer accounts, as well as an influencer map function that shows colleagues or contacts who can help win deals while they are in progress. SAP Sales Cloud uses a tile-based user experience that allows users to organize the sales activities that are most important to them and drill down to the most relevant information, like KPIs.
  • SAP Commerce Cloud (originally Hybris Commerce Cloud) is an e-commerce application that allows companies to develop and deliver e-commerce experiences for customers. SAP Commerce Cloud provides a complete view of each customer that allows companies to present personalized e-commerce shopping experiences. It includes configurable dashboards that allow users to manage their e-commerce operations, including product content on an e-commerce site or real-time data about inventory levels. You can, for example, manage the items that appear on a site based on customer search activity.
  • SAP Service Cloud is a mobile-first platform for managing field service operations. Field service technicians can use SAP Service Cloud on a mobile device to plan and manage service calls while the system keeps managers updated on activities. For example, the field service technician can schedule appointments, locate needed parts, get information on how to install the parts, get directions to the service appointment location and keep travel data, and process payments. SAP Service Cloud incorporates field management technology from Coresystems, which SAP acquired in 2018.
  • SAP Customer Data Cloud from Gigya is an application that businesses can use to allow customers to control the use of their personal data in online or e-commerce relationships. SAP Customer Data Cloud came to SAP when it acquired Gigya in 2017. The application is intended to help companies meet GDPR requirements for transparency and control of personal data online.

Benefits of C/4HANA

According to SAP, C/4HANA differs from "legacy CRM" platforms because it focuses on the customer, rather than the sales process. This is important because customers -- businesses and individuals -- now dominate the terms of sales experiences and determine how interactions happen.

One of the key concepts behind C/4HANA is that of trusted data and trusted relationships. C/4HANA can enable companies to build trusted relationships with customers by focusing on data protection (allowing no unauthorized data use), knowledge of customers (their preferences and habits), and fulfillment (delivering the right goods on time). For example, because companies know more about customer preferences and behavior, they can develop individualized marketing campaigns, deliver omnichannel digital experiences and foster personalized sales relationships.

This was last updated in July 2018

Continue Reading About SAP C/4HANA

Dig Deeper on SAP ERP software and modules