SAP tells e-Business symposium customer centricity is the key to survival for Asian businesses

Hong KongBeing responsive to customers has always been a reliable recipe for higher profits. But as globalisation and the emergence of the Internet reinforce each other and lead to dramatically increased competition for customers, becoming customer-centric has become a matter of survival for most companies.

This was the message that Klaus Zimmer, president of SAP Greater China, delivered at the SAP Hong Kong e-Business symposium that took place on 18 August 2000 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Appropriately entitled, “The Ro@d to Customer Centricity with mySAP.com,” the event featured SAP industry experts from around the globe addressing this important theme – how to put the customer’s interest at the heart of any business.

“In the mid 1990s, the key to success was BPR – business process re-engineering. Today it is CPR – customer process re-engineering and the solution that enables companies to achieve this transformation is Customer Relationship Management (CRM).” said Zimmer.

With the increasing importance of the Internet in business, companies now have to collaborate over the Web in order to meet demands from customers and business partners. By better understanding the needs of these groups, companies can offer even more choices and deliver quality products and services.

However, as Zimmer pointed out, the range of choice and convenience of the Internet also make it much more difficult to retain customers – the offerings of competitors are also always just one click away.

“Winning the battle for share of mind and share of wallet in this new economy depends on understanding and intelligently managing relationships with customers. It is no longer the privileged domain of particularly successful companies; it has become the make-or-break challenge for every company,” he said.

SAP’s solution to the CRM dilemma is mySAP.com Customer Relationship Management. It is an open web-enabled solution that flexibly supports all customer driven tasks and encompasses all touch points – Internet, contact centre and personal contact.

“The integration of mySAP.com CRM and Supply Chain Management, enables a holistic circle-of-commerce,” said Zimmer. “By linking CRM, supply chain applications and processes together with e-commerce, companies can improve their bottom line and deliver superior service to customers and partners.”

According to independent research firm Gartner Group, a range of factors are forcing companies to recognise the value of customer centricity and CRM solutions. These include increasing global competition, diversification of sales channels and a growing trend towards products and services being sold as commodities rather than at a premium.

However, while fast moving high-tech, telecommunications as well as banking and finance sectors have been quick to implement CRM, the majority of Asia’s traditional industries are lagging behind. According to Gartner, fewer than 10 per cent of manufacturing firms have implemented more than one CRM function and in the public sector, the figure is much lower.

“Successful CRM is a voyage not a day trip and SAP is developing the solutions that customers will need at every point along the way,” said Lee Boon Lee, managing director of SAP Hong Kong Co Ltd. “For example, as information systems enter a new mobile era, companies can now access mySAP.com CRM solutions from the mobile and handheld devices that are proliferating with astonishing speed.”

“We are providing customers with even more choices and flexibility in how they access critical inter-enterprise data and applications, enabling them to conduct business activities from virtually any location,” said Lee.

This ties directly into the CRM cycle. By improving access to information, companies can increase the speed at which a response can be formulated to any customer query or market development – thus enhancing its competitive edge.

“For customer-centric enterprises, the competitive edge is increasingly based on having real-time capabilities to manage the strategic, operational, and relationship centric information in the business,” Lee said. “mySAP.com Customer Relationship Management provides companies with an integrated solution that helps not only in getting customers but also maintaining their loyalty.”