SAP asks Nortel's Clarify division for CRM help

Industry analysts last week praised an announcement by SAP that it will resell customer relationship management (CRM) software made by Nortel Networks's Clarify unit, calling it a sign that the applications vendor now realises it can't try to develop everything in-house.

But some analysts also said claims by SAP and Nortel that their union poses an immediate threat to CRM market leader rival Siebel Systems were a bit premature. SAP still has "to scramble up a steep hill" to catch Siebel, said Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting in the US.

Sources had earlier said that a deal was in the works between SAP and Nortel's Clarify division, which makes software for use by call centres and customer service departments.

SAP traditionally has insisted on developing its own applications to go with R/3, its flagship set of enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. But like many of its ERP rivals, SAP is now reaching out for help from other software vendors as it tries to expand into markets such as CRM.

Chris Larsen, president of SAP America, said: "One third of our customer base is looking to make some decisions in the CRM space as it relates to e-business applications."

SAP is preparing for what it expects will be a surge of interest. Clarify's eFrontOffice suite will be accessed through mySAP.com, and the two vendors have been jointly integrating their two environments.

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