SAP puts mobile CRM on BlackBerry

Germany-based software vendor SAP AG unveiled this week its Sybase mobile CRM (customer relationship management) app for the BlackBerry, calling it a “super app” for the popular business smart phone.

With a November availability, the Sybase Mobile Sales for SAP CRM is being demoed this week at BlackBerry DevCon 2010 in San Francisco. Carolyn Fitton, product marketing manager with Sybase, spoke to ComputerWorld Canada from DevCon about why the company is calling the app “super.”

“What makes it so valuable and powerful is the fact that users are easily able to translate their data and have access (to it) because they are getting it instantly,” said Fitton.

Remote sales representatives have the advantage of a mobile app that is “always on and it’s always connected” such that when a user in the field updates a lead or opportunity in the system, the mobile CRM automatically updates the rest of the users in the field, said Fitton.

“The ROI on a mobile CRM is incredible because no longer are we waiting for information,” said Fitton.

SAP already makes its CRM available for other devices including the iPhone, iPad, Symbian and Nokia. Support for Android devices is expected for early 2011 although no concrete date is set, said Fitton.

Making available a desktop app for a mobile device can sometimes mean a bit of an adjustment to the new form factor. But Fitton said mobile users will have a familiar experience that replicates much of the same functionality as that of the desktop, such as meeting opportunity management, analytics and reporting. “It is a very familiar setup,” she said.

Users won’t feel that any functionality is particularly lacking either, added Fitton.

SAP has made other moves in the area of worker mobility since acquiring mobility technology vendor Sybase earlier in 2010. In March, the company made available a business process mobilization tool for smart phone users to manage tasks via an e-mail-type user interface.

study commissioned by Sybase earlier this year found that smart phone users want better access to data when on the move. Of the 2,443 U.S.-based respondents, 70 per cent reported being able to get at less than 10 per cent of work data.

The study also found the number one ranked use for an iPad (if the users were to be given such a device) would be to conduct work tasks on the device.

SAP recently said it is in the process of building a new on-demand CRM app, called Sales On Demand, that will incorporate social collaboration elements. The technology is based on Business ByDesign (hosted enterprise resource planning for small-to-medium sized businesses) and StreamWork (collaboration platform).

As for other vendors in the CRM arena, Microsoft Corp. in late 2009 announced a free six-month access to its CRM Online tool in an effort to poach customers of rivals’ and Oracle CRM on Demand.

Microsoft, which has its own Dynamics CRM, also launched a lawsuit against in May on the grounds that the company’s hosted CRM along with supporting software and hardware, infringes upon nine of Microsoft’s patents.

Meanwhile, borne out of its acquisition of database Jigsaw in April, introduced a new service integrating business contact data with its CRM and Chatter collaboration tool.

Last March, Oracle released the latest version of its hosted CRM, Oracle CRM On Demand Release 17, with improvements in areas including forecasting and analytics functionality, and user interface.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau 

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