SAP takes Aussie platform offshore
Kathleen O'Brien: An Aussie-developed software platform being taken by SAP Hybris to world markets
An Australian-developed ‘citizen engagement’ software suite has been released worldwide by SAP subsidiary Hybris.
Developed locally by SAP and local business partner UXC Oxygen – recently acquired by CSC – the software is a platform to “enable digital transformation in the public sector.”
It is the result of an eight month development effort by the two companies, and involves the opening of a dedicated SAP Hybris data centre in Sydney, the third in the world after Frankfurt and Boston.
Hybris, best known as an e-commerce vendor and content management vendor, was acquired by SAP in 2013. SAP Hybris’s Kathleen O’Brien, who led the development team, told InnovationAus.com how the software came to be developed in Australia.
She said SAP made the decision after it acquired Hybris that it would use the software to develop a public sector offering. The Hybris platform has already been used to develop what SAP calls ‘accelerators’ for the telecommunications, financial services, media and travel sectors.
“There is a strong move globally towards the digital delivery of government services,” said Ms O’Brien. “People now expect to be able to access everything digitally, including government services. With the public sector we decided to take a new approach and do it with a development partner.
“After a worldwide search we shortlisted Australian developer Contiigo, and they were ultimately selected.”
She said Hybris had developed a close relationship with Contiigo, which continued after both companies were acquired by (UXC Oxygen bought Contiigo in May 2015). Contiigo was founded in Sydney in 2004 by Matt Hampshire, who moved into e-commerce after senior sales roles with Oracle and Informix.
Development started early in the year, and continued through UXC’s acquisition by multinational tech services giant CSC in March 2016.
“CSC was very supportive,” said Ms O’Brien. “I was invited onto their partner advisory council, and we won an internal CSC award for innovation partner of the year. UXC has a development team of about a dozen people, and we were able to provide extra expertise from Australia and abroad.
“Contiigo, and UXC Oxygen had been doing a lot of government businesses. It made a lot of sense to have the development team and the partner in Australia – we had the expertise and everyone was really keen.
“We spent quite a bit of time on the requirements definition, but then development took about six months. It’s not a static product – we will be adding to the functionality as we move forward.
“We believe the public sector has a great opportunity to transform and improve citizen engagement. This new solution is equipping and empowering them to meet these expectations quickly, efficiently and through digital channels.
“Citizens also increasingly expect personalised and predictive services based on life events or known dates for real-time decisions and services. Whether it is a reminder to renew a parking permit, a prompt in relation to a tax payment deadline, or a notification reminder that it is time to register their child for school.
“Retailers and other commercial organisations are using data-driven insights to improve customer experience. This approach can be applied in government service delivery too.”
The software is intended to bring digital government services to citizens through a unified user interface which resides in users’ personal accounts, providing document handling, requests, payments, permits, and registrations in areas such as:
- Civic services – delivering public services online, such as applying for an ID, visa or a parking permit, or to file complaints.
- Social services – for support with financial or medical assistance, child care or unemployment benefits.
- Tax and revenue management – such as online taxpayer services across all devices and channels.
- Grantor requests – allowing schools and other potential grant recipients torequest and track grants.
“Our primary aim is to take the consumer grade experience that we've enabled across other industries in retail and private sector, and apply that to government,” said Ms O’Brien.
“Being able to deliver this to citizens is very important, but also giving the government a platform to deliver.”
She said that SAP could not yet announce any users for the system, but had worked with ‘feedback customers’ in Australia and expected to be able to make an announcement in the new year, at the local and federal levels.
Ms O’Brien announced the product at InnovationAus.com’s Open Opportunity forum in Canberra last week. The company hoped the platform would be considered by government for its ‘cities’ program.
SAP will have some competition there. Its major competitors – Microsoft, Oracle and IBM – have all announced ambitious ‘Smart Cities’ strategies, and are also looking for a piece of the action.
She said the initial focus of the SAP Hybris citizen engagement accelerator will be in the UK, US, Canada, Singapore the Gulf States and Germany.
SAP Hybris partnered with InnovationAus.com to present the Open Opportunity forum in Canberra on November 24