SAP Chasing Siebel

SAP AG claims that more than 1,500 customers of mySAP CRM has put the German software giant ahead of PeopleSoft and Oracle, in the race to be number two behind industry leader Siebel. Along with its claims, SAP provided comments from a few customers -- Loewe, Melitta and FAG Kugelfischer -- endorsing its technology. Introduced in late 1999, mySAP CRM helps companies manage business processes in marketing, sales and services, and over multiple channels such as the Internet, interaction centers and personal contact. The software has picked up some impressive global customers, including Nestle Nordic, Osram, Siemens IBM and AstraZeneca. Revenues from mySAP CRM reached EUR 445 million last year.

There are many ways to use mySAP CRM. For instance, Loewe, makers of home multimedia and other luxury lifestyle products, employs mySAP in its new customer-care center. And coffee machine vendor Melitta has implemented mySAP CRM to help manage, in particular, service for hotels and restaurants, and inventory and campaign management. For Melitta, SAP's global presence was key. In addition to a rich analytical feature set, "internationality was important to us," said Michael Jusek, CRM manager at Melitta. "The SAP solution is multi-lingual and takes into consideration regional legal issues. In addition, the company is present on site, throughout Europe."

But the biggest sales driver is told by industrial ball-bearing manufacturer FAG Kugelfischer, which uses mySAP CRM to keep its mobile sales force in the loop. "As a long-standing user of SAP products, only one solution -- mySAP CRM -- came to mind when we had to consider functionality, close integration with SAP R/3, and the prospect of rapid implementation," said W. Jurgen Schmitt, CIO at FAG Kuglefischer.

Clearly, mySAP CRM is riding on SAP's huge installed base of ERP customers and the need to tightly integrate the front office with the back office. The current version of mySAP CRM has more than 100 pre-defined business processes for fast implementation, according to SAP. To this end, the company has been marginally successful, says Kelly Spang, senior analyst at Current Analysis. "mySAP CRM's 1,500 customers represents only 8 percent of their installed base -- it's a pretty small number," she says.

Moreover, SAP has traditionally been SAP-centric, its technology considered by many to be overly complex, according to Spang. While SAP is making strides to open up its CRM offering and penetrate non-SAP accounts, the company still has a long way to go. "If you're looking for a CRM solution and you're not an SAP shop, then SAP may not be on the top of your mind," Spang says.

PeopleSoft and Oracle are also vying for the number two spot behind Siebel, leveraging their installed bases and touting customer wins. Last month, Oracle announced it landed Underwriters Laboratories as a CRM customer; and coming off a strong 2001, PeopleSoft's Phil Wilmington, executive vice president of North America, proclaimed, "We're number two in the CRM marketplace, behind Siebel." Perhaps prompting SAP's claims, PeopleSoft recently told Wall street that it expects to miss its estimates of $160 million in sales this quarter.

still, the race to be number two in the CRM marketplace remains hotly contested. Whether the metrics are revenue or number of customers, "it's pretty much a crap shoot," says Spang.

Tom Kaneshige also writes for Line56.com

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