SAP: Late BloomerBy Baselinemag | Posted 2005-11-08 Email Print
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SAP was second fiddle for years in CRM, but customers say it's tuned up its software and now plays as well as any competitor.
SAP's tortoise finally caught up with the CRM hares. After lagging competitorschiefly, Siebel Systemsfor years, customers say SAP has now virtually drawn even on features. The one thing that has kept it in the race: integration with its flagship enterprise resource planning system.
In 2001, Molex, a maker of electrical connectors, needed a way to track potential deals to get a better read on revenue forecasts, says CIO Gary Matula. It considered Siebel's customer relationship management system. At the time, "SAP was well behind the curve in their development of CRM," he says. But the cost to integrate Siebel with Molex' existing SAP system would have been significant. Plus, Matula points out, "We would have had to build a whole new set of technical skills around Siebel."
Matula opted for SAP's CRM offering after the company convinced him that "SAP was in it for the long haul." Today, he's satisfied SAP has delivered what it promised: "We've seen a steady stream of improvement." For example, he says, it's now easier to set up workflows in the system (such as routing a sales prospect based on preset criteria).
For Varian Medical Systems, SAP came through just in time. In mid-2004, the medical device maker was looking for software to let service representatives track customer feedback about its products. "We'd found many things lacking in SAP's offering," says Satish Subramanian, Varian's manager of information systems. Some in the company were pushing for Siebel.
Then in October 2004, SAP released a service-industry CRM module that added many things Varian wanted, including the ability to categorize calls and handle inbound e-mail inquiries. The key advantage for Varian, as with Molex, was that the software plugged directly into the SAP enterprise resource planning system. "We didn't need any consultants to get this going," Subramanian says. "We know SAP inside and out."
Similarly, technology recruiting firm Yoh Services picked SAP's customer relationship management software because the company already had invested in SAP for back-office functions, including human resources. Plus, SAP's familiar interface helped recruiters learn the CRM system more quickly, says Jim Lanzalotto, vice president of strategy and marketing.
"We think SAP's CRM technology is as good as anyone else's on the market," Lanzalotto says. "I don't see anything that's deficient." In other words, SAP seems to have finally turned the CRM corner.
SAP OPERATING RESULTS*
* Fiscal year ends Dec. 31; YTD reflects first nine months; Figures based on period-end exchange rates from euros to dollars
Total assets $9.72B Stockholders' equity $6.18B Cash and equivalents $3.78B
Long-term debt None
Shares outstanding 309.79M
Market value, 10/28 $52.96B
** AS OF SEPT. 31, 2005, EXCEPT AS NOTED includes short-term investments