Just In Time: SAP Delivers CRM 2007
SAP on Tuesday released an upgrade of its CRM 2007 software suite featuring a new user interface and support for Web 2.0 applications in the enterprise.
The software is available in packaged and hosted versions and, at least for now, will not be available as an on-demand, software-as-a-service (SaaS) (define) offering. In September, SAP unveiled Business ByDesign, the company's first SaaS product for small- and mid-sized business (SMB) customers.
Analysts say this latest offering features an improved user interface from its predecessor, CRM 2006s, allowing users to move around Web 2.0 tools such as mashup applications and widgets in a more intuitive and seamless fashion. SAP officials said CRM 2007 lets business users track and understand customer tendencies and enables application infrastructures to support multiple interfaces, changes in configuration and multiple user interfaces.
"The primary takeaway is the UI is much improved compared to CRM 2006s and uses Web 2.0 principles where users can drag sections of the screen around to personalize them for themselves," Rob Desisto, an analyst at Gartner, told InternetNews.com. "It's still on-premises, which gives, at a minimum, the SAP faithful a little stronger footing to make the case for an integrated SAP story. That was very difficult when the UI was clearly something that was not received by sales representatives."
Desisto added that in order to take advantage of the new user interface and Web 2.0 support, customers will have to eventually upgrade their existing ERP, CRM and NetWeaver middleware stacks.
"It's more of a re-implementation," he said. "You can't go to Web 2.0 functionality with an older version of SAP CRM."
This latest release includes SAP's Real-Time Offer Management module, the business intelligence component that cobbles together and analyzes customer data. There's also a Pipeline Performance Management feature that enables companies to create role-based interactive tools for sales representative to improve workflow through a series of hypothetical scenarios that maps potential new deals against sales lead lists.
The Business Communications Management application brings together communications technologies and SAP CRM to expand traditional call center-based processes across the organization. This provides for field-based sales and support staff working anywhere in the world.
"The latest version of SAP CRM is all about customer-driven growth and is revolutionary for the enterprise software industry as a whole," Bob Stutz, senior vice president and general manager of SAP's global CRM unit, said in a statement. "SAP is bridging the gap between cool, user-driven Web experiences and enterprise software applications."