CRM, PRM, and Integration, Oh My
SAP's Peter Zencke takes us down the yellow brick road to the multichannel land of Oz.
For the rest of the August 2002 issue of CRM magazine please click here
Peter Zencke, executive board member and 19-year SAP veteran, met with CRM magazine Senior Editor David Myron and Line56.com Senior Editor Jim Ericson at SAP AG's recent e-business conference, SAPPHIRE '02. They discussed SAP's CRM and partner relationship management (PRM) initiatives, as well as the importance of CRM's ability to integrate well with human resource applications. CRM/Line56: Why did SAP chose to go to market with a multichannel solution versus separate, preferred-channel solutions? Peter Zencke: For three years now we have focused on CRM. We had nothing three years ago. We ramped that up to become one of our biggest and most important solutions now. In 1998 to 1999 we started changing the overall way to interact with customers. That's important. That's when we had a more holistic view of what CRM is. So we started immediately in multichannel, instead of just one preferred channel. We learned as well that there was a theory that call centers would have their hype in 1999 and 2000 and would fade away. This is not the case. So we invested heavily to have a very competitive call center offering as well, allowing multichannel--the linking of the Internet channel with the call center channel and having an overall portal environment, even going down to the wireless PDA with a different portal environment, but the same infrastructure. Portals are the environment for employees working on customer contacts and customer knowledge, in whatever function, be it sales, service, or marketing. The portals open up the communication into the customer base, and more important it can go down to b-to-c and b-to-b, the key-account management, the dealer management, and the reseller management. All of these partner portals enable partners to directly work on the CRM content of an enterprise offer. These channels do not fade away. You need tight channel integration. CRM/Line56: Doesn't that bring out a whole slew of conflicts? One of the big issues that resellers have is, they don't want to divulge their sacred customer database to the vendor partner. Otherwise, the vendor can bypass them. If the vendor is now talking to and supporting their customers, what extra value does the reseller channel have? Zencke: There are a number of these conflicts. To really execute a CRM strategy--you are absolutely right concerning the resellers and the dealers--there is some protection necessary in terms of who is allowed to have access to the data. Indeed, one could just steal the opportunities from the other and the overall channel management as well. We think the technology is there. The critical element you named in collaboration is the business model. You should not just think that collaboration can be done only by technology. You need an alignment in the business models as well. That's the harder part of the equation. There will be a number of trial and errors there. Nevertheless, it will be the biggest opportunity for the future. CRM/Line 56: Siebel is working hard at employee relationship management. Some people there have said that is the company's new high ground. How do you feel about that? Zencke : They make a lot of noise about that. They name that the new killer application, or whatever. Don't forget, Siebel has to compete not only against SAP, but also against PeopleSoft. PeopleSoft has quite an attractive offer, because it has an HR system and a CRM system. So there is some pressure on Siebel to do something in that area. It's very misleading what Siebel is doing. CRM is people driven. In that sense Siebel is right. CRM therefore, has to deal with things like incentive management for employees. What Siebel is doing wrong is to say these should be functions offered by a CRM suite. Instead, these are HR functions that should be visible in the CRM environment. For instance, if you have an incentive management program you have to ensure that finally, you're paid according to what your incentive has been. If that process is not there, then people have to go through their extra spreadsheets and send that over to the HR department, which is a reality in many companies today. So for us incentive management really means that information automatically goes into HR and accounting every month.
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