SAP rolled out a new version of its SAP CRM application — its first major release in a year.
Significant changes to the platform include a new user interface that allows business managers to make changes that previously would have required more extensive customization and new functionality in a number of areas, such as trade promotions, real time offer management and contact center processes.
Much of the new functionality has, in fact, been a work in progress for several years. Some of it, such as the trade promotion feature, SAP has been developing in tandem with consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies.
“We have been co-innovating with about 10 major CPGs,” Mike de la Cruz, senior vice president of CRM applications solution management at SAP, told CRM Buyer.
30 Mouse Clicks and Counting
However, it is the user interface (UI) that Cruz and Bob Stutz, senior vice president and general manager of the CRM product and technology group, point to as the greatest change in this release.
In earlier versions, Stutz told CRM Buyer, it might have taken 30 mouse clicks to create an opportunity.
“Now we are down to less than five in this version,” he said. “We went through the [old] product and looked to see how we could simplify the page so a user can do anything it needs without navigating away.”
An intuitive UI is now seen as an essential competitive feature — and an area in which SAP has lost ground compared to other firms, Sheryl Kingstone, an analyst with Yankee Group, told CRM Buyer. In earlier versions of the application, she said, it was difficult for the line of business user to make the necessary changes to the application to reflect its company’s business process.
In this new version, she said, it appears as though the vendor has adopted the right approach — with her final verdict waiting to be rendered once SAP’s execution on the ideas is seen.
Besides the UI, SAP CRM has built out functionality in several core areas. New in this release is a multi-channel customer service, which expands call center processes to field-based staff and other remote staff and enhanced trade promotions management and marketing development funds applications aimed at customers who want to extract more out of their promotional spend.
SAP collaborated with Adobe and Intel on the new applications. Already running SAP CRM 5.0 in its call centers, Adobe leveraged SAP CRM’s integrated sales force automation capabilities to support the sales processes. Intel and SAP collaborated on the marketing development funds module by enhancing online claims entry, compliance and accruals. These processes within CRM link to claims and payout processes within a company’s SAP enterprise resource planning back-end system.
SAP CRM 2007 is available to customers this month.