SAP Gets Its Demand On Again

SAP pushed farther into the on-demand space with the release of its third wave of live solutions. The release, announced today at SaaScon 2006, was in following with the quarterly product road map the company laid out last February. The new solution, SAP Service on-demand, was created to help service managers monitor service levels and manage customer service ticket-handling and distribution. Additionally, as part of the rollout SAP issued upgraded capabilities for its SAP Sales on-demand solution, including sales automation features for product and quotation management.

Angela Bandlow, vice president of CRM Solutions Marketing, explains SAP's strategy behind the releases: "We're really focused on flexible deployment options that gives customers a choice of the right solutions for their business needs--if they want to get up and running quickly or they want end-to-end, 360-degree CRM initiatives." SAP Service on-demand and SAP Sales on-demand are both part of the larger group of SAP CRM business solutions. Both releases can be integrated with other solutions and can be built into an on-premise solution.

According to George Goodall, senior research analyst for Info-Tech Research Group, SAP's slow, controlled rollout is a differentiator for the company in the CRM marketplace. This sluggishness has garnered some criticism. However, he says, "SAP's reserved approach is a marked departure from Salesforce.com's splashy tactics and it is starting to play well with SAP's core customers-mature and reserved companies."

The SAP Service on-demand solution follows the SAP on-demand solutions for sales and marketing. Goodall says that this release corresponds to a high demand in the market place, "Service management is currently the most important component of the CRM landscape." To help address this, the solution features a service-ticket management capability that enables service agents to manage the progress of customer tickets comprehensively, while the rule-based service ticket distribution allows tickets to be prioritized and delegated. The solution also allows agents to monitor the timeframe of service availability to track adherence to service level agreement.

SAP Sales on-demand moves the product in a new direction, according to the company. Bandlow says the new release, "Really takes us from just sales-cycle management to sales-execution capabilities on-demand." The new features include product support, which allows for the uploading of specific and detailed product information, as well as quotation management through which sales professionals can distribute, track, and manage customer quotes.

Bandlow says that this release marks just one step toward SAP's plan to allow its customers to implement all solutions either on premise, on-demand or as a hybrid. Goodall says that while SAP is confident in this vision, some have been spectacle as to their ability to follow through. "The question currently faced by many enterprises is if they can trust SAP to provide a road map for facilitating this integration. These announcements are a clear signal they can."

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