SAP AG Tuesday unveiled upgrades to its SAP CRM 2007 software that include support for Web 2.0 applications.
The upgraded software, introduced at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the company's SAP Influencer Summit here, is designed to improve interaction between end users and partners, according to Bob Stutz, president and general manager of global strategy and product development at SAP.
Stutz said the software is now available in packaged and hosted versions. He declined to disclose pricing of the upgrade.
Stutz described SAP CRM 2007 as "comparable" to Google Inc.'s iGoogle personalized portal application. He said that SAP has worked with more than 100 customers at large companies for the past 18 months to study how using the Web can help them solve increasingly complex CRM issues.
That work prompted SAP to focus attention on the growing importance of building mashups, incorporating more drag-and-drop capabilities in the user interface and improving add-in edit functionality.
Stutz said that he expects most existing SAP CRM customers to install the new version over the next 12 months.
David Macauley, senior vice president of CRM at Siemens AG, said that his global organization plans to replace more than 500 separate customer relationship management systems with the new SAP CRM software next year. He said the decision comes as the company moves to take a "much more serious" view of CRM technology.
"With [the new offering's] Web user interface, it would definitely attract users as opposed to repel them, which was the case before," Macauley said. "The more flexible you can make a system, the more beneficial it is to doing your daily work."
Macauley said that Siemens plans to upgrade to SAP CRM 2006 in mid-2008 and will settle on a "final stable platform," whether SAP CRM 2007 or its eventual successor, down the road.
The Web 2.0 support in the new SAP CRM version can help users to quickly understand customers' tendencies and enable application infrastructure products to support changing business processes, multiple user interfaces and configuration needs, industry observers said.
The updated software also includes the SAP Real-Time Offer Management module, which can be used to calculate customer data and specific session information, the company said. A new feature called SAP Business Communications Management provides an IP-based "contact call center" setting to route, queue and manage communication among internal, external and outsourced sources, SAP said.
SAP said that the new version also adds a tool called the Pipeline Performance Management module, which is designed to allow organizations to create role-based interactive tools for sales staff to improve workflow via "what if" scenarios to map potential deals against sales opportunities.
SAP CRM 2007, part of the SAP Business Suite, also includes updated trade promotions management and marketing development funds software, which are designed to improve access to supply chain, financial and historical trade performance information. The latter feature should help companies better forecast accuracy and planning of trade promotions and reduce invalid claims, the company said.
SAP noted that it worked with Intel Corp. in developing the updated CRM software's marketing development funds module.
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