Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen (NMBS), also known as Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Belges (SNCB) in French, is the National Railway Company of Belgium and the second-oldest in Europe. It operates, organizes and commercializes train traffic across the country and is also responsible for train maintenance & renovation. The operator has about 4.000 train drivers and transports over 250 million passengers each year.
Although NMBS has many customers, the Marketing and Sales department didn’t have a lot of insights into their good and loyal customers. In the past, their SAP CRM system was mainly focused on customer questions and complaints, compensation and other more service-related data. It had limited data about ticket sales or other preferences of B2C customers. Also, train tickets were sold in a non-digital way for a long time. Sales data was fragmented and scattered in different silos of sales applications.
The Marketing and Sales department of NMBS wanted to accelerate the digital transformation of their business by moving into a digital-first strategy and creating a GDPR complaint 360° view of the customer by granting the customer access to his or her own data.
To achieve this goal, NMBS had a need for a customer data platform, which was the combination of SAP Customer Data Cloud (for customer profile), Adobe marketing suite and SAP Integration Suite.
The SAP Customer Data Cloud (SAP CDC) solution is the new digital profile replacing the existing myNMBS back-end application with a better UX experience and secure customer profile, consent and identity. We selected SAP CDC as it is one of the leading Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) and Customer Profile systems.
Digital channels will become primary channels to offer the travelers more convenience in ticket buying anytime & anyplace
Building trust and transparency in the customer journey
Complex architecture and integration with existing customer data in CRM and ERP
* Some of these objectives are long-term and still require additional developments
At the moment of implementation, the combination of SAP Customer Data Cloud and the Adobe products were best of breed in their different niches. SAP CDC is used to capture all customer-related data. The Adobe tools; Adobe Experience Platform (AEP) is used for segmentation and customer selection based on sales and web behavioral data and Adobe Campaign Standard (ACS) is used for mail-based interactions with the customers.
For the first time in NMBS history, we are now gathering all sales data from all different sales applications and combining it in a customer profile using SAP CDC. SAP Cloud Integration (CPI) is used to replicate this data to the Adobe products (AEP and ACS).
By doing a backend only replacement, we are able to limit the work on the customer-facing frontend and take a gradual approach to adding new functionalities.
Since all frontends were calling the same APIs, we mapped the existing API structure to SAP CDC.
We are using the 3 components of SAP Customer Data Cloud:
For more details about the CDC solution please read our blogpost “Hyper-personalized customer experience with SAP Customer Data Platform”.
We started with a backend only replacement, so the existing backend application that managed the logins was replaced by the new SAP CDC application. Existing web services were mapped and rerouted to SAP CDC to avoid that the frontend application needed replacement as of the start of the project.
When SAP CDC was receiving data, we were able to forward this customer and sales data received by SAP CDC to the Adobe platform using SAP CPI. Using webhooks, the SAP CPI system is informed about a change, calling the web service to read the data in SAP CDC and forward that data to Adobe Campaign Standard and Adobe Experience Platform.
Since we didn’t need to change the frontend, we were able to deliver this project in a very short period of 7 months from kick-off to go-live (End of March 2021).
The combination of SAP CDC and Adobe was a win-win situation, for business and marketing users as for IT. Since a large part of the NMBS backbone is SAP software, the integration between SAP CDC and the backend application was relatively easy. The architectural fit of the solution was therefore also a major benefit.
Adobe and SAP have proven to be great partners, during this implementation the collaboration between SAP architects & support and Adobe architects & support was great and very professional. This has been proven in the short implementation cycle, resulting in a huge step forward for the marketing department of NMBS.
With the unified data model, NMBS is able to gather all customer and sales data in one central place (3 different sales backends) in one format. Allowing the business to increase the speed of campaign execution.
From a business point of view, the speed of campaign execution has evolved from multiple days to minutes. With this unified data model, business is now able to target the right customer and send them the right message at the right time. This benefits the lives of NMBS customers as well as it improves the job of Marketing & Sales people by creating better customer journeys.
By using the profile and consent capabilities of SAP CDC, we are able to provide a fully GDPR-compliant profile while offering a 360° customer view of the business. From a customer point of view, in the future NMBS will offer a fully transparent insight into customers’ data based on a trusted relationship and users can modify their own preferences. By doing so, this large entity is stimulating its innovative perception. They can give the travelers the feeling that they really know them by offering relevant travel information, promotions, interesting news,… based on the customers buying behavior and preferences. This all results in higher loyalty and customer satisfaction.
Lesson learned: we encountered some challenges since NMBS wanted to enforce the integration and security policies on standard SAP integration.
Overview of business objectives this solution will stimulate:
Overview of functional objectives this solution will stimulate:
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