New Trends and Functionality on Display

Petro-Canada is a believer. So is Avid Technology in the U.S. Each of these two very different organizations relies on mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM) to tackle sales and service issues. In March, as SAP readied for its second-quarter launch of a new version of the solution, SAP customers and partners gathered in Las Vegas for the CRM 2006 event. They shared experiences and problem-solving advice. They presented new uses, technical components and strategies for mySAP CRM.
“CRM is a very, very powerful tool,” said Judi Sommerville, business process specialist for Petro-Canada. She explained how the company, one of Canada’s largest oil and gas providers, uses the Interaction Center (IC) component of mySAP CRM. It initially deployed IC 3.0 in 2004 for its inside sales and customer service staff. Last year it added its mobile sales team to IC. She said Petro-Canada uses IC to maintain accurate, up-to-date customer data and to reduce paper-based record keeping.

And Petro-Canada’s was just one of the many successful SAP users who gave presentations. An executive from Avid Technology said that company uses mySAP CRM to give sales people current data about customer contacts. Also present at the event were many SAP executives, who shared information about the CRM market in general and what’s coming in mySAP CRM 5.0.

What’s new in mySAP CRM

An event keynote speaker, Darc Rasmussen, senior vice president, CRM Solution Management, SAP, spoke at length about the new SAP CRM on-demand solution, which debuted on February 2. He noted that on-demand CRM is a major market trend, with a growing number of companies deploying in instead of a complete enterprise solution.
And the CRM market in general is on the upswing. Gartner reported that the CRM industry returned to positive growth in 2004, after a decline in 2003. A Gartner press release said that worldwide CRM new license revenue was $3.5 billion in 2004, an increase of two percent from 2003.
Rasmussen said that for the last year and a half SAP has been working on its own “quick start” for CRM, a solution that doesn’t require layers of approval or high cost to implement. With the new on demand solution SAP creates a way for line of business managers to deploy CRM on a small scale that can later be morphed into the more comprehensive mySAP CRM.
Rasmussen also said mySAP CRM 5.0, in pilot now and scheduled for wide release in the second quarter of this year, is the biggest CRM release ever for SAP. It offers substantial usability improvements and better e-commerce functionality than version 4.0. It has new digital asset management capability and e-mail response management functionality. During the rest of the event, speakers presented details about those enhancements.
Jose Lopez of SAP Labs gave a presentation about new features in the sales functionality of mySAP CRM. He said SAP’s goal with the new release is to boost end-user productivity. He spoke about the new “People-Centric User Interface (PCUI),” of 5.0, which includes easier navigation and better integration with Microsoft Office. Users can export lists from CRM into Microsoft Excel, for instance.
It also comes with a new set of “Quick Create” functions. Those allow users to open a new activity window while still keeping other CRM windows open. The idea is that users can access e-mail, appointment schedules and other commonly used tools without leaving the CRM work space.

Better web browsing

Birgit Starmanns of SAP Labs presented, “What’s New with mySAP CRM e-Marketing, e-Selling, e-Service, e-Analytics and Selling via eBay.” She offered a wealth of details on SAP enhancements.
For example, the e-marketing functionality of mySAP CRM 5.0 offers improved catalog and content management capabilities as well as greater personalization. When a customer is browsing a company Web site, she gets specific, customized page views that offer products that match her previously established preferences. That way the company gets a better chance to sell her additional products, a tactic called “cross-selling,” “up-selling” or “down-selling.”
She also highlighted the better usability. In past versions of mySAP CRM, a customer had to navigate company Web site in a linear fashion. He could not see how many pages there were in the results of a product search, for instance. In the new version he can sees how many pages there are and can navigate forward and backward as well as jump between pages using tailored links.
Also in past versions when a customer made a spelling mistake during a product search the process came to a halt. The solution couldn’t recognize the misspelled word. The new version has error-tolerant search, which automatically offers spelling corrections, just like a standard Web browser. It also highlights search terms within the text of the results, so the customer can easily see them.
Newsletters are easier to manage in the new version as well. There is a new opt-in and opt-out function for subscriptions. When a customer is purchasing items online, he can choose to either accept or decline the company’s offer to send him a newsletter.
Starmanns also detailed a technical change to the architecture of mySAP CRM. The new version for business-to-consumer scenarios uses a frameless design. In past versions the architecture was frame-based, so that no matter what content a customer viewed the same frame was around the Web page. That inhibited tasks like refreshing and bookmarking. Now with the frameless design, specific Web pages can be bookmarked and refreshed without forcing the user back to the home page.

Wrapped up with new capabilities

John Burton, product manager for mySAP CRM IC, spoke to the crowd about another important new technical change in the product. In the new IC version for telemarketing, telesales and customer services, its framework is decoupled from mySAP ERP (enterprise resource planning). He says that allows customers who do not use mySAP ERP but use mySAP CRM to use the IC.
Burton also said the new IC features an employee interaction center. So, not only can IC handle company-customer interactions, it can help employees perform self-service, such as benefits management or tax form completion. And he noted that the IC has had browser-based functionality since 2003 in version 4.0, but that with version 5.0 it’s standard.
Web browsing, sales processes, customer interaction—just about every topic of interest to CRM professionals was on stage at the event. So although CRM is changing, it’s definitely not going away. The purpose of the event and of CRM technology, said Cathryn Rheiner, vice president, CRM, Industry Solutions Group, SAP America, is “to help drive a more customer-centric experience.”
“People are the critical component for a CRM journey.” Although the focus of the conference was CRM software, during her keynote speech Rheiner reminded attendees to stay attuned to the needs of the people that use it.

Sarah Z. Sleeper
Sarah Z. Sleeper