Software as a service (SaaS) is a model whereby companies don’t have their industry software physically installed on site, but instead rent it – or subscribe to it – for a particular period of time. There’s no need for expensive hardware. All that’s required is a PC and an Internet connection. The advantage is that you only pay for the applications you actually use, you can add modules or omit them, and you can save costs and avoid lengthy implementation projects.
SaaS was one of the main talking points at this year’s CRM-expo in the German city of Nuremberg. Because price models are flexible and implementation is straightforward, on-demand solutions particularly appeal to small companies in the service industry who want to use software to map their customer relationships. Although many companies instinctively feel reticent about outsourcing customer data, the providers all promise high security.
SAP, Oracle, and Salesforce.com all offer subscription-based software. At the CRM-expo, the three software companies presented their on-demand products for customer relationship management:
Salesforce.com offers CRM software exclusively as an on-demand solution. The company promises the user a 360-degree view of the customer. According to Salesforce.com, the solution can capture and process everything from customer data through marketing campaigns, customer segments, and customer requests.
What’s special about the on-demand Force.com platform from Salesforce.com is that companies of any size can deploy it. There’s no minimum number of users, which makes the software especially suitable for small businesses. Prices start at €7 per user per month for the most basic edition, increasing to €275 per user per month for the unlimited package.
Oracle also has an on-demand CRM solution, with a focus on use in sales and distribution.
In terms of on-demand software, SAP has the broadest offering of all three software houses. The SAP Business ByDesign solution doesn’t just cover CRM, but also ERP in its entirety, so it provides far more. With SAP Business ByDesign, companies can also manage financial planning, personnel administration, and logistics. The software is hosted by SAP and users access it using their Internet browser.
From marketing, through sales and distribution, and customer service: The CRM module provides all the important applications, enabling people to create sales orders, submit travel expenses, plan projects, deal with complaints, ascertain delivery status, and see which goods have been received or issued. With the software, users can keep customer master data up-to-date, perform analyses of the competition, observe market developments, create sales quotes, check whether products are available, and view shipping information.
Programs such as Microsoft Outlook, Access, or Excel can also be easily integrated. A particular highlight is the integration of Web services in the user interface: Features like Map24, the Google search function, business news from the online portal Morningstar, or information services from GoYellow can all be included. As a result, users can, for example, plan the route for their next business trip, book a hotel, or check out the latest stock prices – with virtually no extra effort.
SAP Business ByDesign requires at least 25 users and costs €133 per user per month.