Identity Crisis: Janrain's Plan to Win Over SAP-Gigya Customers

With so much at stake for both software vendors and their customers, conflict is unavoidable especially when dynamics change. Say, for instance, that one major player was acquired by one of the most valuable global brands - leaving some to wonder what's next and others to take action.

In Sept. 2017, SAP announced plans to acquire Gigya with most of the details still on the down-low even post finalization. As recent as last week, SAP was not able to provide commentary on specific plans for the integration or counter competitor claims. Meanwhile, however, Gigya competitor Janrain (also a prominent vendor in the customer identity and access management space, or CIAM) made the rounds promoting its migration program for "Customers Unsettled by SAP Acquisition." The migration program, which expires on Dec. 31, 2017, includes: an assigned identity consultant, project management support and migration planning, standard migration support, mobile and Web developer APIs and documentation, and knowledge transfer and training on configuration of registration and login flow best practices.

Even critics would have to admit it is a smart strategy, but Janrain doesn't take all the credit for the idea. When speaking with Janrain CEO Jim Kaskade, who was brought on last year, he told Website Magazine any good marketer would have thought of this program, but it was a prospective client who reached out to them - starting the thought process. This reported Gigya client was concerned about what the SAP acquisition meant for them. While this is a common query for everyone involved in an acquisition (e.g., employees, competitors, investors, end-users), Kaskade believes those who generally like to partner with best-in-class vendors do so with the intention they are independent and "not aligned with one master" - referring to SAP. Therefore, Kaskade candidly told us he feels pretty strongly it is Janrain's independence that will keep them balanced since companies do not run on one technology stack such as all SAP or all Microsoft. Janrain's identity cloud, he continued, is agnostic with what it connects to because it has to be.

"When we get requests from our clients who have a lot of Oracle or IBM or as many as 12 CRM platforms, we can't just say 'the SAP platform we can do really well with, but the other 11 we'll have to get a system integrator,'" said Kaskade.

For these reasons, Kaskade thinks the cost for Gigya clients who are SAP centric will go down and will go up for a mix beyond SAP - provisioning that statement with a comment that Gigya has been very price competitive leading up to this acquisition but will have to figure out how to get prices down or up to be profitable for SAP.

"We're coming at this where our pricing structure won't change but theirs may," said Kaskade. 

While SAP could not comment, we'll counter on its behalf by including Gigya CEO Patrick Salyer's writeup, "The intellectual and financial resources of SAP will greatly accelerate Gigya's efforts to serve our clients - while the Gigya platform will continue to integrate with vendors up and down the customer engagement technology stack - across three fundamental dimensions:

  • Identity. Providing a secure, flexible, multi-tenant cloud database that makes it easy for individuals to create relationships with the brands they admire.
  • Consent. Give customers full transparency and control over how their personal information will be used, while complying with privacy laws such as the European Union's upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  • Profile. Enable brands to progressively develop insights into their customers' interests, preferences and activities, then utilize these insights across the brand's customer engagement systems."

It is this last piece where Gigya fits in with SAP Hybris well as Hybris Profile, for example, captures engagement touchpoints to provide more context to interactions for a person such as killing a retargeting campaign when it's been identified this person has made the conversion on a company's website or even with a competitor (a pretty significant example of pairing first- and third-party data). Under GDPR, however, this level of profiling will need to be addressed with the consumer, which is where Gigya comes in (read more here).  

The products themselves are nothing short of fascinating, but background noise is a little high this month. Competitors like Janrain are quick to point out key shifts to leadership at SAP Hybris with their chief marketing officer as well as their chief strategy officer both moving on recently. Internally, it was also announced SAP Hybris President and Co-Founder Carsten Thoma would leave by the end of the year with sources saying his departure is to focus on startup ventures. Prefacing it with change is good, competitors like Janrain are making this a talking point saying SAP Hybris will be distracted with looking for who can be brought on or emerge as a thought leader as well as with Gigya trying to prove its return for SAP.

In the end, vendor choice is about trust and value. Both Gigya and Janrain have been two constants in the social login space for the last decade breeding both of those factors as they evolved to more sophisticated identity management platforms.

Gigya will fit in with customer experience-focused SAP Hybris as a single sign-on experience and Janrain will maintain its independence and continue providing a secure identity cloud.

Both Gigya and Janrain lessen customer drop off at registration thanks to the ability to sign on with established credentials (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Google), which fights off customer fatigue of creating or remembering additional username-password combos; both will help enterprises with GDPR compliance as end-users can see and manage their data and consent; and both will integrate with others to use this information to provide more personalized experiences and messaging.

Where SAP Gigya will offer more benefit is likely turning around the Hybris Profile piece (which gathers interactions to form a profile of a person to inform marketing decisions) to a customer-facing product where someone can manage their identity. With the mind-blowing amount of first-party data SAP already has, Gigya can bring in the customer to a conversation essentially about their data, which is a necessity as GDPR effects likely reach the rest of the globe. Agreeing with Kaskade, where Janrain will offer more benefit is its independence. For this reason alone, customers intimidated by SAP will likely appreciate the lower entry point Janrain will have despite it too catering to global enterprises.

What are your thoughts about how the customer identity space will play out? Any questions you have that we didn't answer? Let us know in the comments below.