CRM Apps Automate Vertical Tasks

Vendors provide out-of-box support for processes in key verticals.

SAP AG, Siebel Systems Inc. and PeopleSoft Inc. are trying to forestall costly and time-consuming customizations of their respective customer relationship management applications by providing out-of-the-box support for business processes specific to key vertical industries.

SAP, of Walldorf, Germany, will unveil at its Sapphire user conference in Orlando, Fla., in June a version of its MySAP CRM suite that will include new functionality spanning the 22 vertical industries now covered by SAP solutions.

New applications will address specific verticals, including a trade promotion management module for con- sumer products companies, commercial and industrial sales capabilities for utilities, and work force management capabilities for retailers, said an SAP spokesman. SAP will also add support for vertical-specific business processes such as chargebacks for pharmaceutical companies. This version will be built on SAPs Netweaver integration platform and offer new, deeper levels of business process integration, said the spokesman. SAP is also using Netweaver to make software services developed for one module in its MySAP suite available to other applications without a heavy code rewrite. It has ported a planning engine in its Financials suite to its Business Intelligence suite and said it plans to add the engine to MySAP CRM.

Separately, Siebel last week released Version 2.0 of its UAN (Universal Application Network) software, introducing 50 industry-specific applications for integrating its CRM software with third-party applications.

The new applications in UAN 2.0, which support business processes based on best practices, address companies in high tech and manufacturing, communications and media, insurance and health care, energy, automotive, and finance. Applications across those verticals include customer and product lifecycle management, order management, billing management, and contact management. UAN applications work in tandem with enterprise application integration software to translate business processes across disparate business applications. While the business processes supported are based on best practices, customers can customize the applications, said Siebel officials, in San Mateo, Calif.

PeopleSoft, of Pleasanton, Calif., is working with oil and gas drilling company Ensco International Inc. to burnish the PeopleSoft CRM Field Service module with a feature to automate equipment maintenance. The capability will be generally available to other Field Service users as they request it.

Tom Chapman, CIO at Dallas-based Ensco, hailed vendors moves to address tools to business processes. "We definitely look at [our PeopleSoft implementation] as business processes; we dont think of it as modules," Chapman said.