SAP, SAS Apps Raise Analytical CRM Stakes

MySAP 4.0 provides real-time analytics.

Enterprise resource planning and business intelligence software developers alike are improving analytics features in their respective CRM applications.

SAP AG last week released new customer interaction center capabilities in Version 4.0 of its MySAP customer relationship management product. The new analytic capabilities are designed to improve inbound marketing operations, such as generating better, more personalized cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. The features should especially aid call center agents who need to do a better job retaining customers in the aftermath of the new National Do Not Call Registry, officials said.

While past SAP interaction center technology generated recommendations based on customer preferences, the new SAP technology provides real-time analytics for the first time, said company officials, in Newtown Square, Pa. For example, the software will be able to drive specific scripts to agents based on the statistical likelihood that the customer is to churn, or stop doing business.

Some enterprise software users are eager to see the results of SAPs embedded analytics efforts.

"This announcement is definitely intriguing when we begin to invite our partners and customers into our SAP environment," said Patti Walker, CIO of Fender Musical Instruments Corp. But the Scottsdale, Ariz., company wont be live on SAP until next April, and CRM is for now on the back burner.

SAS Institute Inc., one of the few business intelligence vendors still focusing on analytical CRM, isnt about to concede the space to SAP. The Cary, N.C., company is planning to release a new vertical analytical CRM application for the media and entertainment industry later this month and another for the retail vertical market early next year, company officials said.

SAS is also reaching out to enterprise application integration software developers to help distribute analytics to front-office users. This counters the so-called embedded analytics that enterprise software developers such as SAP are delivering within their operational applications.

In the first quarter of next year, SAS plans to announce that it will use IBMs WebSphere as the middleware layer to handle this analytics distribution. This will ensure that consistent information is sent out across all front-office channels, SAS officials said.

SAS also plans a rewrite of its Enterprise Marketing Automation suite to provide a common user interface across all its applications. It will add a campaign-planning module to optimize marketing campaigns based on budgets and goals.

The new version of EMA is due late in the first quarter and will be the first SAS CRM solution based on Version 9.1 of the base SAS platform.