SAP plans new CRM version in Q4

SAP plans to launch a new version of its CRM software in the fourth quarter.

SAP will release a new version of its CRM (customer relationship management) software in the fourth quarter, the business applications vendor announced Wednesday at its Sapphire user event in Boston.

The new version, called mySAP CRM 2005, will offer several enhancements over the current version 4.0, according to Volker Hildebrand, vice president of CRM product management at SAP. In the future, SAP will name new releases by the year and not by the version number, he said.

The new version, which runs over the NetWeaver middleware and integration platform, will include new business intelligence capabilities provided through the new mySAP Analytics product announced last month at the Sapphire show in Copenhagen.

"We're leveraging this new analytic technology, which spreads across the suite of SAP products," Hildebrand said. "This is a very useful tool in managing customer and partner relationships."

SAP is adding embedded analytic capabilities to various marketing tasks, according to Hildebrand. "Generally, when you launch a campaign to promote a product, you generate demand and also costs," he said. "With this new enhancement, users will have a tight integration with their supply chain management systems to keep track of their stock and, at the same time, a tight integration with their financial system to establish their return on investment."

The software company has also added an e-mail response management function, which allows companies to manage inbound inquiries and outbound promotions more effectively.

Nearly one year after SAP announced a deal to combine its CRM software with Blackberry wireless handheld devices manufactured by Research In Motion (RIM), the German vendor is offering various mobile capabilities, such as contact and customer management as well as order management, according to Hildebrand. "We have been beta testing these applications over the past few months," he said. "Now we're going to provide them."

SAP's new CRM version also offers new capabilities for banks, according to Hildebrand. "Today, many tasks, such as signing up new customers, are paper-based," he said. "We have developed an electronic form that captures data and automatically routes it to the CRM database, which, in turn, can be accessed by other applications."

In addition, the new version will provide a more intuitive user interface, making it easier for users to extract information by providing hyperlinks, for instance, to navigate from an analytical report directly to the original report.

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