Laptops, BlackBerrys, and iPhones are now the most common tools for field sales employees, but they’re not just for writing e-mails and putting together PowerPoint presentations. Thanks to special applications, sales staff can use their mobile devices to access the SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) application located at their company headquarters. Please see as well the article Mobile Software, Part I: Service and Maintenance.
A mobile solution in sales and distribution has to do more than supply field sales employees with a minimum of information, such as customer contact details. In fact, employees should be able to work with the solution in just the same way – regardless of whether they are in the office or on site with the customer – and have functions like route planning, sales planning, activity management, campaign management, and lead generation right at their fingertips. What’s more, they need to be able to access documents and reports, and update any information in SAP CRM directly.
The following SAP software is available for sales and distribution:
- SAP CRM for sales and distribution
- SAP Mobile Sales
- SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe
- Sybase Mobile Sales & Workflow
SAP offers its customers a mix of old and new. While SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe is used exclusively offline, SAP Mobile Sales, SAP CRM, and Sybase Mobile Sales & Workflow are online solutions. SAP Mobile Sales and SAP CRM are accessed through a Web browser – which is great if field sales staff always have their notebooks at the ready, but less convenient for those whose main tool is an iPhone or a BlackBerry. The Sybase solution is tailored more to smartphone users. The mobile client is optimally adjusted to the iPhone user interface and the menu structure is clear, so the software can be used intuitively with a few swift finger movements.
Browser-based – SAP CRM 7.0 (Sales)
SAP CRM is the software of choice for marketing and sales employees. The current version 7.0 has many features and includes business intelligence (BI) functions such as predefined BI reports and a wizard for report generation. With SAP BusinessObjects Xcelsius Enterprise, users can create sales dashboards. These can then be uploaded with the wizard and are subsequently integrated into the CRM WebClient. Several CRM users can then access the dashboards.
The German kitchenware and tableware company WMF recently switched to SAP CRM 7.0. WMF uses SAP CRM 7.0 as a purely online application – together with SAP ERP 6.0, SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence 7.0, and Adobe Document Server. With the account management function, it’s possible to display the entire customer master from the ERP system, as well as marketing features, customer hierarchies, and account hierarchies. With product master data management, users can have a look at the whole material master, including product hierarchies, from SAP ERP. In order entry, orders can be processed and delivery notes and invoices displayed. The activity management menu function is for managing appointments, tasks, e-mails, and questionnaires.
Constant UMTS required
To be able to work with the CRM system while on the road, users must have a constant connection to the Internet. If the connection is lost – or if UMTS is not available – the data is lost too, along with the order that was being processed. To avoid this problem, WMF also deploys the SAP Interactive Forms software by Adobe. This is an offline solution that contains the entire customer and material master. Field sales employees send the Adobe form to the CRM server using Microsoft Outlook. The form is then imported into the CRM system. After that, employees receive a link (through e-mail) to the order that has been entered or get the form back with comments from headquarters.
WMF implemented its CRM system with help from NEO Business Partners, based in Hannover, Germany. As WMF stressed at the Mobile Business Conference 2010 in Stuttgart, it was worth the effort. Only the lack of UMTS availability caused issues at times. The company would have preferred an official release of WebUI for the use with Windows 7 at that time.
Sybase Mobile Sales & Workflow 1.0
In May 2010, SAP announced its acquisition of Sybase. Sybase is a market leader in mobile business software. Because the two companies are still in the negotiation phase, no information about planned products or road maps has been revealed yet.
Sybase Mobile Sales & Workflow 1.0 gives full mobile access to all CRM accounts, so that sales employees can use their iPhones while away from the office to generate leads, calculate sales opportunities, and manage customer contacts. The application is available free of charge from the iTunes Store. All that you need is your existing SAP CRM component, an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad with an OS 3.0 operating system, and the Sybase Unwired Platform. The Sybase Unwired Platform is the middleware that ensures seamless integration of back-end data with the mobile client, and it supports the development of mobile applications with plug-ins for Visual Studio 2008 and Eclipse.