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SAP CRM 4.0 grabs Sapphire headlines

SAP's newest mySAP CRM release addresses 280 industry-specific business processes and the company says the product will push them past CRM market leader Siebel Systems.

Predicting that SAP AG will outperform Siebel Systems Inc. as the market leader in customer relationship management software by the end of the year, SAP chairman and CEO Henning Kagermann yesterday announced the latest version of mySAP CRM 4.0 at the company's annual U.S. user conference in Orlando, Fla.

The new mySAP CRM products show off SAP's relatively new integration platform, NetWeaver. The most recent version of mySAP CRM supports more than 280 vertical business processes specific to industry verticals such as pharmaceuticals, high tech, media and entertainment, and professional services. The company also announced new supply chain management (SCM) products that play off its NetWeaver architecture.

SAP called the release "among the most far-reaching product development efforts in SAP's history."

At a morning press conference, Kagermann introduced the newest CRM products, which were clearly the headline news at the company's annual Sapphire user conference.

"We feel very comfortable that, with this release, we'll become the market leader by the end of the year," Kagermann said.

SAP has been focused on its CRM successes in recent months and has made clear its intentions to surpass Siebel in the CRM space. Siebel has disputed the numbers SAP has made public with regard to its mySAP CRM sales, saying they aren't representative of increasing popularity but instead reflect the number of users who own CRM licenses as part of their full mySAP business suites.

At least one analyst who attended yesterday's Sapphire press conference, Gartner Inc.'s Yvonne Genovese, said she thought SAP should steer its attention away from Siebel.

"The mySAP CRM solution is leading the way, for SAP, in terms of innovation," Genovese said. "Where we see CRM going, other products will follow. CRM, for example, was the first product to get the new interface. It's still not at a point where it's on par with the Siebels of the world.

"But SAP doesn't need to be worried about that. They are spending too much time worried about how they compete in that market. CRM is not a business process. It's a strategy, and CRM gets implemented across the enterprise. It's not a silo. And they are treating it like a silo. I think they need to make customers understand that."

SAP is touting its mySAP CRM releases as the "market's most comprehensive solution," and it has happy users, such as Avid Technology Inc., based in Tewksbury, Mass., telling their CRM success stories at the user show.

Among the highlights, SAP said, is that the most recent mySAP CRM release offers an easy upgrade path for existing customers and allows for a modular approach for those who need incremental implementation.

Version 4.0 includes what SAP called a "Web-based inventory collaboration feature." That feature allows companies and their partners to view, and collaborate on, inventory processes.

The collaborative services architecture offers enhanced analytics and marketing functionality also.

In an interview with yesterday, SAP America CEO Bill McDermott predicted that CRM sales this year would be "a very high percentage of the overall revenue of SAP America." McDermott said he expects mySAP CRM to be responsible for at least 33% of overall revenue.

"MySAP 4.0 is a major product for the company, from the user interface to the ease of adoption, and, of course, the business-process point of view," McDermott said.


Check out a Special Event at Sapphire Orlando '03.

To provide your feedback on this article, contact Ellen O'Brien.

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