Market Watch: Enterprise CRM
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With no substantial increases in corporate IT budgets in sight, CRM vendors say they have to increase the value of their offerings. So in 2003 many enterprise players plan to continue to focus on integration and verticals. SAP AG, for example, will continue in its attempt to fully integrate back- and front-office solutions to create a "one-stop CRM shop," says Steve Bergh, a partner at Deloitte Consulting who covers SAP. Bergh also says that SAP will more readily target specific industries and develop functionality tailored to their needs. "SAP is aggressively going after the utility space in light of deregulation," Bergh says. "Now that utility companies need to market to potential customers, SAP is developing systems to better integrate [its] CRM package with its utility billing and customer information software." Bergh adds that SAP will introduce systems to meet the needs of the life sciences industry, and will provide for more modular upgrades of its R3 enterprise system in 2003. Like SAP, PeopleSoft will continue to focus on verticals, such as financial services and government, but Rich Penkoski, global lead partner of the PeopleSoft alliance at Deloitte Consulting, says the company will see much more opportunity as its maintenance of PeopleSoft 7.5 will end early in 2003. "Once the maintenance ends, some companies will have to decide whether to upgrade or install another company's system, and PeopleSoft has made excellent technical improvements to its platform, enough to gain new business," he says. Also, PeopleSoft has released version 8.8 of its enterprise CRM suite, and Penkoski says that it will include enough tools to fully integrate the CRM package with other front- and back-end systems to make it an attractive alternative to Siebel. "Also, 8.8 fills the holes that have been present in the email and chat-support sections of earlier versions, which makes it a more viable solution for companies seeking remote customer service and support," he says. Siebel Systems has been making integration strides with its Universal Area Network (UAN) platform, which the company says integrates Siebel 7.5 fully with either .Net or J2EE. David Sent, analyst with IDC, says the Microsoft/Siebel alliance could be a boon for both companies as Microsoft enters the CRM space. "This alliance is a positive move for organizations seeking lower costs on the rollout of CRM solutions. Embracing Web services standards will serve to melt the data and application silos within and between organizations. The impact is reduced costs of integration and interoperability within organizations and externally with customers, suppliers, and partners," he says.
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