SAP's Customer Commitment
SAP CEO Henning Kagermann's message to the capacity crowd of nearly 4,500 during the opening keynote of the company's Sapphire customer conference yesterday in New Orleans' Morial Convention Center was clear: It's all about customer focus. The company, he said, has been and will continue to center on accelerating time-to-value and lowering TCO. "That is why we invested so heavily in NetWeaver," he said, citing one of the advancements the company is using to help its customers improve the results of their SAP investments.
According to Kagermann, an independent study of SAP customers using its best practices were able to lower TCO by 10 percent, and those that consolidated their IT landscape were able to lower TCO about 20 percent.
Kagermann also said that SAP is looking "to address the needs of the business user, and speak their language." Discussing the company' road map, Kagermann said that business collaboration is its first priority. "To support growth strategies, you have to support people," he said. This means getting information to users when they need it, and offering flexibility in terms of business processes and deployment strategies.
According to Kagermann, SAP will continue to find further ways to lower TCO, for example, through improved enterprise services offerings like inventory prioritization and planning, and will continue to offer the flexibility that should allow customers to better use SAP to help spur their growth. "People are looking for guidance," he said. "We are committed to this."
One area in which SAP intends to support these goals is through its expanded partnership with IBM, which was announced during the conference. The two companies have agreed to expand their global alliance in serving retailers with retail-specific business solutions and technologies. The joint offerings are designed to help retailers better leverage existing applications, find ways to reduce costs, and to support emerging technologies. The two partners will jointly offer such combined assets as SAP's NetWeaver and IBM's WebSphere, as well as merchandise and POS data management, merchandise planning, and workforce deployment.
SAP also announced that it has enhanced its relationship with Microsoft. The two firms plan to deepen the integration between SAP NetWeaver and Microsoft .Net to increase the operability between the two systems.
One new relationship that also plays to NetWeaver's strengths, according to Darc Dencker-Rasmussen, vice president of global CRM initiatives, is SAP's alliance with RIM to deliver mySAP on the BlackBerry wireless handheld device. The real-time connection to users' corporate servers will enable these field sales professionals to remotely complete such tasks as accessing and updating customer and account information, viewing and managing opportunities, checking availability to promise, and tracking order status--all in real time, with no manual synchronization. "Online capabilities are a powerful tool, and one that our customers have been asking for," Dencker-Rasmussen says. "It creates a great competitive advantage for companies that use it."
Although both Dencker-Rasmussen and Bill McDermott, president of SAP America, use and demonstrated the joint solution's capabilities on their BlackBerries, SAP does not plan to make it generally available until later this year. The solution will complement SAP Mobile Sales, which is a module within mySAP CRM that is available in both laptop and handheld versions.
To further support its growing roster of midmarket customers, SAP launched SAP Best Practices for CRM. The 16 packages that comprise the offering address such processes as lead management, opportunity management, marketing campaign management, and interaction service center sales and services. The processes are based on the best practices of such companies as Waters Corp., which purchased SAP when it was a $300 million company and used it to help grow to an expected $1 billion this year. According to Dencker-Rasmussen, Waters attributes $8 million in revenue gains directly to CRM. He also says that implementing SAP Best Practices reduces the time to implementation as well as the risk, thus cutting implementation costs by about 20 percent. SAP also introduced several vertical industry Best Practices packages, including automotive, consumer products, high-tech, and professional services.