SAP's Year-End Model Sports a Facelift
BOSTON -- Among several announcements in a multi-hour presentation, SAP Chief Executive Officer Henning Kagermann unveiled the company's revamped CRM application at the fifth annual SAP Influencer Summit here today. As a theme running through the event, Kagermann and other company executives stressed the importance of services-oriented architecture (SOA) in keeping up with the increased speed of change in the business environment.
SAP's NetWeaver platform, the central component of its various enterprise applications suites, is backbone upon which the company plans to accomplish this, according to data presented at today's keynote address. Since the introduction of NetWeaver in 2003, the platform has some 30,000 implementations worldwide, generating revenue of approximately 585 million euros for SAP. More than 2,000 enterprise services, provided by more than 1,000 developers, are available, including 500 new options developed this year.
Even the size of the Influencer Summit has grown in its five years, according to Peter Graf, executive vice president of global marketing for SAP. What was a group of 30 industry influencers in 2002 had grown to 340 today, he noted.
SOA was at the core of each of the morning's addresses, but SAP CRM 2007's new user interface was the practical advance attendees could point to. No longer relying on the much-maligned SAP graphical user interface (GUI), the model unveiled today is a Web-based, role-oriented interface that allows the user to configure and personalize the workspace, while leaving the platform untouched and stable. As shown, the interface was clean -- perhaps even a little sparse -- and clear, with a left-hand navigation section and drag-and-drop customization such as one might find on Facebook.
Other features within SAP CRM 2007 include:
- Pipeline Performance Management: Interactive solution includes "what-if" modeling, real-time examination and manipulation of data, and improved resource management;
- Business Communications Management: Complete Internet-Protocol-based contact center solution, with multichannel inbound and outbound capabilities, able to serve multiple locations including home-based agents;
- Real-Time Offer Management: Guidance system that aids with recommendations; cross-sell, upsell, retention, and marketing messages, based on session information, agent skills, and offer value;
- Trade Promotion Management and Market Development Funds: Centralized management of all trade fund budgeting, allocation, utilization, and expensing, with finance system integration; and
- Service Parts Management: Provides oversight for supply, inventory, and deployment of service parts, whether in a warehouse, a service truck, or back-ordered.
Though the news SAP presented was about its technology platform, Kagermann reminded the gathering that a platform has no purpose if it's not doing something for customers. "People don't buy tools; they hire tools to do a job," he said. "You don't go to a hardware store to buy a drill; you go there to buy a hole."
Analysts indicated that SAP's efforts were emblematic of the direction in which enterprise software is headed industrywide. "The next generation of CRM applications will be designed to appeal to sales, marketing, and customer service professionals," Ed Thompson, vice president and distinguished analyst at research firm Gartner, said in a statement. "But they will also be able to support multiple different user interfaces with a clear emphasis on usability and ease of configuration for all types of users...[and will also be able to] integrate more easily to form end-to-end processes to appeal to both business users and IT."
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