SAP enters CRM market with open system

SAP is to make a foray into the crowded customer relationship management (CRM) space with software that is not dependent on...

SAP is to make a foray into the crowded customer relationship management (CRM) space with software that is not dependent on integration with its back-office systems. However, analysts have warned that non-SAP users could face functionality problems.

This is the first time that SAP has gone head-to-head with CRM software suppliers such as Siebel and Oracle. Some analysts have welcomed the fact that SAP's CRM 3.0 offering will work with a variety of back-office systems, pointing to the fact that Siebel lacks this capability. The SAP CRM software also has Web enablement capabilities.

CRM 3.0 can link to back-office applications such as Peoplesoft's Enterprise Resource Management or Human Resource applications, and to Oracle applications. In the past, the e-business modules only linked to SAP's proprietary back-office applications.

SAP's CRM software includes analytics and more than 100 templated business scenario applications. These include customer order capture, integrated advanced planning and optimisation and service requisition.

However, analysts have expressed doubts about the extent of SAP's open approach. AMR Research said users will not get full functionality without having SAP financial and order management applications because the CRM capability is dependent on business processes and functions in the SAP enterprise resource planning software.

AMR also believes that, even if users are willing to forego some functionality, they will still face integration issues because although some parts of SAP CRM are written in Java, more than half is written in SAP's proprietary Abat code.

On the positive side, AMR said that for existing SAP users the CRM applications offer better-than-average analytics, data mining, order management and field service capabilities, although it lags behind Siebel in sales force automation.

SAP CRM 3.0 allows users to measure online profitability on an individual customer basis using an online analytical processing engine. It can be deployed in a variety of situations, ranging from Web-based call centres and field sales, to fax, handheld and kiosk-based CRM systems.

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