SAP Drops 'Hybrid' Term from CRM Offering

CRM 2007 still is both on-demand and on-premise, but SAP officials said calling it a hybrid product was confusing.

BOSTON-Gone is the term "hybrid" to describe SAP's deployment model for its CRM on-demand software unveiled in February 2006.

In its place is an upgraded version, CRM 2007, which has had any signs of the h-word carefully stricken from the myriad descriptive materials. SAP announced CRM 2007 Dec. 4 at its Influencer Summit here.

While the hybrid concept still exists with CRM 2007-the software is available both on-demand and on-premise, and users can switch between the two versions-SAP officials said the term was too confusing to resurrect for this latest CRM [customer relationship management] iteration. At the same time, the initial hybrid model did not see the pick up in sales SAP had wanted.

"There has not been that much scaling as we would have liked [with CRM on-demand]," said executive board member Peter Zencke in an October interview with eWEEK. "Probably this is because [when] SAP customers talk about CRM, they talk about integration and processes [so] we cannot just copy the model. ... SAP customers have a different expectation-a closed loop from lead to execution. If that works, it has to work in the hybrid model. It is a different model than [single] tenant; it is not stand alone, it is an integration [to SAP's back-end systems]. It was just not accomplished."

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Officials hope the new features in CRM 2007 and distancing it from its previous model by dropping such terms as "hybrid" will help speed adoption.

With the CRM 2007 release, which is available this month, SAP worked to conquer integration issues by enabling its customers to tap data in their back-end systems for use in CRM-likely an ongoing effort as SAP builds future versions. "Ultimately, at the end of the day, what is CRM really about? It's about servicing customers at all touch points," said Bob Stutz, senior vice president and general manager of SAP CRM strategy and product, said at a press conference here. "But it's also being able to harness what is at the back-end, and that's really what we're doing because we own the back-end. The ability to take that data out of the back-end to enable end-to-end processes is really what we are trying to do."

David Macauley, senior vice president of CRM at Siemens, has plans to replace more than 500 separate CRM systems-from, Siebel, Microsoft and Maximizer among others-with SAP's CRM software next year. Much of that decision was based on the ability to tap back-end data, which Siemens has stored in SAP's ERP (enterprise resource planning) system.

"If you don't have ERP integration, you have sales force automation," Macauley said. "It's a good place to start, but not a great place to finish."

Stutz said the CRM 2007 release is "radically different" from SAP's 2006 version of CRM, which he said was designed as a beta release to "get more customers on the system, get more customer feedback and find out what was missing." For example, users' ability to add mash-ups is simple and fast, Stutz said, whereas mash-ups had to be coded in the 2006 release.

Probably the most significant upgrade in CRM 2007 is a new user interface that Stutz likened to Google's iGoogle custom portal application, which lets users customize Google's homepage with things such as news and blog feeds, weather reports, sports statistics or any other information that is relevant to them. Stutz said SAP worked with about 100 customers over the past 18 months to study how they used the software to determine what they could do to streamline the user interface in CRM 2007. One of the things it added across the UI: drag-and-drop features.

"Nothing was drag and drop in the 2006 version," said Stutz.

SAP has added additional user features beyond the redesigned UI, including multi-channel customer service capabilities that bring together SAP's Business Communication Management software with CRM 2007 to expand call center-based processes out to field-based staff, as well as others in any location. SAP also has expanded its trade promotions management and marketing funds software to bring more visibility, control and traceability of funds and claims. Finally, SAP's Real-Time Management software has been added to bring more intelligence to customer interactions.

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