SAP moves to boost CRM

SAP AG is readying a round of improvements for its line of customer relationship management (CRM) applications that it boasts will deliver more industry-specific functions.

The business applications maker has disclosed plans to release the next version of its CRM application this summer. It’s SAP’s avowed goal to unseat San Mateo, Calif.-based rival Siebel Systems Inc. as the premier CRM vendor, and executives claimed that the new release will help them do that, particularly in the North American market.

As part of its plans, SAP will expand the ability of its applications to take data feeds from even more sources than are currently available using Web services technology, said Peter Zencke, a member of the SAP executive board. This, in turn, will allow customers to draw on more key performance indicators and better exploit CRM analytics to improve quality control and customer interaction, he said.

Among the new features coming to the next release will be business processes specific to 22 vertical industries, said Zencke. For instance, SAP intends to expand the marketing campaign-related functions available for the consumer packaged goods sector. Companies will be able to drill down into order management, budgeting and supply chain fulfillment processes connected with promotions, he said.

SAP will also make available the entire range of CRM functions to mobile devices, such as personal digital assistants, for both online and off-line processing, he said. Currently, CRM functions for handheld devices are limited to sales force automation. The other applications of the suite will be similarly made handheld accessible.

The new version will be available in June.

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