• February 15, 2012
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

SAP Embraces Cloud, Mobile Solutions

NEW YORK (SAP Forum) – SAP today made an aggressive push toward cloud-based and mobile business applications, outlining plans to revamp its entire product line for a new generation of users and build on the HTML5 platform.

Rob Enslin, SAP corporate officer and president of global field operations at SAP, redefined the company's cloud marketing strategy. "We will be the Number 1 business applications provider in the cloud within the next five years," he said to a crowd of about 300 SAP customers and partners at the New York gathering of the SAP Forum, a series of regional customer events.

The greater emphasis on cloud-based offerings will affect SAP's complete line of business and collaboration products, he said.

Enslin also placed a greater emphasis on mobile applications, saying the company will work collectively and with its customers and partners to enhance mobile applications, platforms, messaging, and security.

Beyond cloud and mobile environments, SAP’s market focus will also center on three other areas: analytics, applications, and databases, according to Enslin. He continued to tout the company's SAP HANA database platform, saying it will allow business leaders to do the following:

  • Instantly predict market trends and customer needs;
  • Have a continually updated window into future sales;
  • Understand what customers and potential customers are saying about you right now; and
  • Predict cash flows to manage collections, risk, and short-term borrowing in real time.

The HANA platform, he said, is one of the fastest business intelligence and analytics platforms on the market today, something that is increasingly important in the world today. "Speed has become indispensable in 2012," Enslin stated. "The world continues to change profoundly at a great rate of speed."

And SAP is responding, according to Greg McStravick, senior vice president and general manager of SAP's North American Eastern Region and Financial Services. "The company is different than it was 10 years ago. The markets we're going after are so dynamically different than they were 10 years ago. The directions that our customers are pulling us in are so different than before," he said.

And along with it, customer demand has evolved, according to Teresa Bernot, senior director of SAP's CRM Center of Excellence. Customers today "want analytics that can deliver faster results and manage higher amounts of data," she said. But perhaps the greatest change is a need and desire for social media integration, "being able to interact with customers on it and combine it with other channels," she said.

"There's also huge [customer] demand for being able to deploy solutions in pieces, to pick and choose where they start and then adding capabilities as their businesses grow," Bernot says.

That's one of the reasons that SAP is placing a greater emphasis on the cloud, whether solutions are housed in public or private data centers. "CRM in the cloud is now an option for our customers. Customers are demanding options like this," she says.

One of Bernot's goals within the CRM Center of Excellence at SAP is to continue building momentum for the company's CRM products, which she says are now radically different than when the company first brought them to market. Originally, CRM was marketed largely as an add-on to the company's other business offerings. "CRM is now an entity in its own right," she states. "We've come so far from where we were."

SAP, she says, has developed many new capabilities within its CRM product line based on market demand and what its competitors are doing. "A lot of it is now focused on mobility, integration with SAP HANA, enhanced analytics, increased functionality, and Web channel management," she says. "There's a lot of momentum right now around mobile, analytics, and social."

SAP has especially grown its analytics offerings substantially since its acquisition of BusinessObjects in 2007 for $6.8 billion, according to Bernot.

The company has also "embraced the wave of the future, enabling customers to be more nimble" she adds. "They’re asking for solutions that they can deploy quicker and that will deliver ROI quicker."

As a result of shifting market demands, SAP is also expanding its CRM products available through the Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS) portfolio, Bernot ponts out. Products currently available in the RDS portfolio include tools for sales, marketing, customer service, business communications management, IT service management, analytics, mobility, and Web channel management.

All this change "has led to radically different applications," Enslin concluded. "This is the most exciting time in my 20 years with SAP."

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