News last week that SAP is acquiring Israeli-founded firm Gigya. Gigya is a customer identity management vendor and has grown to around 300 employees. The deal is suggested to be a $350 million offer, a reasonable, although not remarkable, uplift from the company’s 2014 funding round which valued the company at a reported $250 million.

Gigya has, since its inception, gained a significant amount of users and currently has around 1.3 billion customer identities via usage data, as well as customers’ opt-in and consent settings. All of this data gets integrated into Gigya’s “registration as a service” offering, which, as well as the identity aspects manages the increasingly important compliance requirements – all the more important given the upcoming requirements under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Gigya originally had its inception as a “social” log-in platform that was focused on helping online properties manage customer profiles and to link them to public platforms such as Facebook. More recently, Gigya broadened its focus and moved more generally into identity management for a wider set of customer management features.

Broadening the Hybris value proposition

Interesting for me that this acquisition happened via Hybris, Sap’s e-commerce platform. SAP acquired Hybris in 2013 and Gigya has been a partner for some time. By acquiring Gigya outright, and deeply embedding it into Hybris, SAP is able to both increase the breadth of its platform but, more importantly, provide a more future-focused offering. Riffing on this opportunity, Carsten Thoma, president and cofounder of SAP Hybris commented that:

Gigya brings a wealth of skills and expertise that will significantly enhance the SAP Hybris Profile solution and allow us to take leadership of the emerging customer identity and access management market

The value of integration

Hybris’ customers want to be able to gain and attract more qualified prospects, wherever they may be. This leveraging the functionality that Gigya drives will help them data match and enrich between internal systems and external ones. Said the company in a statement:

This is a vital step for digitalizing businesses because companies need to be able to draw accurate conclusions seamlessly across all channels, including web, mobile, in-store or connected devices, and the Internet of Things, as well as collect data about consumer preferences. Together we are well positioned to drive more effective marketing, sales and service through data, while the customer stays in control of how much data is shared.

Managing the sensitivities around social risk vectors

Another interesting issue is that, despite the value that connecting customers’ social profile to enterprise data brings, it also introduces a risk vector. Indeed, Gigya was the victim of this vector back in 2014 when the Syrian Electronic Army used Gigya as a backdoor to hack various websites. The specific vulnerability used in that occasion has since been resolved, but the core risk about making the firewall more permeable remains. It will be interesting to see how Gigya/Hybris and SAP more broadly deal with these issues. E-commerce is, obviously, one of the higher-risk verticals and Hybris will be particularly mindful of this fact.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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