Customer Relationship Management Blogs by SAP
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SAP CRM: Still Alive… and Better than Ever!

This is the first installment of a new quarterly update for SAP CRM (on-premise) customers, providing you with insight into what SAP is working on, what we've recently rolled out, and what we are planning.

It's no secret that SAP is aggressively investing in SaaS-based solution and that we want to become "The Cloud Company". That being said, SAP also recognizes that the Cloud may not always be an ideal match for every customer or every industry. We want to allow customers to choose the solution that best matches their needs -- whether it be the Cloud, on-premise, or a hybrid deployment.

In addition, SAP still has a huge installed base of customers running SAP CRM on-premise -- and we continue to add more customers every year!  Customers like yourselves, many of whom have just implemented SAP CRM or upgraded to the latest release, don't necessarily have any immediate plans to transition to the Cloud. Therefore, SAP has committed to protect your investment. To that end, SAP has extended mainstream maintenance of SAP CRM until 2025. In addition, SAP continues to enhance and improve SAP CRM with new features and enhancements via quarterly releases.

Analysts are also taking notice of the work SAP is doing with SAP CRM (on-premise). For example, last year Forrester ranked SAP the highest in its 2014 Forrester Wave: CRM Suites for Large Organizations. See the full report here. SAP CRM 7.0 was recognized for:

  • A well-rounded CRM supporting the end-to-end customer engagement experience
  • Large and broad set of industry-specific functionality
  • Very strong reporting and analytics tools
  • Strong marketing automation, customer service, and field service capabilities
  • A platform and architecture that is suitable for global deployment
  • Very strong application ownership experience and global strategy

SAP CRM: Quarterly Release Cycle

Although SAP has committed to maintain and support SAP CRM until at least 2025, we aren't just parking SAP CRM in a garage under a tarp like a classic automobile.  Nope, to the contrary, we are still under the hood tinkering every day: adding tweaks, performance improvements, and sweet new features via quarterly release cycles.

In Q2 we delivered EHP3 SP08, which introduced new features and enhancements such as: the ability to attach multiple PDF factsheets to a CRM business partner account, fast changes for ERP sales orders and sales quotes that have been downloaded to CRM, as well as various industry enhancements for Public Sector and Utilities.

We also recently just released EHP3 SP09, which provides additional enhancements such as mass-change mode for installed base (iBase) materials, creating and updating service contracts and service contract quotations from IBase components, as well as industry enhancements for Telco, Utilities, and Public Sector.

You can find more details about what was included in each release here. The next support package, EHP3 SP10, is planned for Q4.

SAP CRM: Continuous Innovation

The first version of SAP CRM was introduced back in 1999, over 15 years ago. Since then SAP has rolled out numerous improvements via support packages, enhancement packs, and new releases. You might naturally assume that by now, with version CRM 7.0, the solution would finally be complete? But alas, the world never stands still. New business models and best practices are continually evolving, and SAP needs to adapt and respond to keep our solutions current and relevant. Here are some recent enhancements that we think you will find interesting:

  • Fiori User Interface for SAP CRM: SAP Fiori UX (User Experience) is SAP’s next-generation user interface based on HTML5 / SAP UI5 mobile and OData services. Fiori is optimized to run on mobile devices, but Fiori apps can actually run on any device including smartphones and tablets, as well as laptops and desktops. Over 360 Fiori apps are available from SAP including over a dozen Fiori apps for CRM targeted for the Sales Professional / Sales Manager role including things like: accounts, contacts, appointments, tasks, notes, leads, opportunities, and even sales pipeline tracking and simulation. The Fiori apps for CRM Sales were released in standard with EHP3 SP08 for CRM 7.0, though they can also be manually installed on any release of CRM 7.0 or higher. For more information, see my blog, “Seven Things You Should Know about Fiori for CRM”.

  • SAP Desktop Connection for CRM: SAP Desktop Connection is a new offering from SAP that allows end users to access and maintain SAP CRM data like accounts/contacts, emails, appointments, activities, and tasks directly from Microsoft Outlook or IBM (Lotus) Notes. While not a legal successor release to SAP’s existing client-side or server-side groupware offerings, Desktop Connection does provide similar capabilities.

    However, unlike SAP’s existing groupware offerings, Desktop Connection offers greater flexibility and extensibility. And Desktop Connection is not just limited to things like contacts and emails; with the optional Enterprise Edition of Desktop Connection you can synchronize any CRM object with Outlook or Notes, including things like Leads or Opportunities! For more information about the free Professional Edition of Desktop Connection or the optional extended Enterprise Edition (which requires an additional license fee) see my blog, “Desktop Connection for SAP CRM”.

  • SAP CRM Powered by HANA: With EHP3 for CRM 7.0, we have made adjustments to CRM On-Premise to run on SAP HANA including optimized access to all CRM objects, as well as fast and flexible search capabilities across CRM. By using HANA to remove database indices we were able to improve CRM search performance results dramatically, in some cases by up to a factor of 115X. In the Interaction Center for example, by reducing the time required for things like business partner lookup and account history search, we were able to deliver a 5X reduction in average interaction time.

    Of course, it’s not all just about performance. Using SAP HANA we are also able to quickly crunch big data, enabling exciting new capabilities like real-time reporting directly from live CRM data without the need for BI/BW. See the below bullet point for more details!

  • HANA Live Analytics: With EHP3 SP05 for CRM 7.0, SAP released an exciting new analytics offering for CRM On-Premise called HANA Live Analytics. Similar to the older existing CRM Live OLTP analytics option, HANA Live Analytics allows real-time reporting against CRM data without the need for BI/BW. But unlike the older CRM Live OLTP analytics, HANA Live Analytics takes things a step further by allowing you to create your own custom reports and dashboards and then embed them – not just in CRM homepages – but also directly in other CRM screens such as Account Overview screen, Lead, Opportunities, etc.

    And HANA Live Analytics don’t only work with the CRM WebClient user interface; they can also be embedded in Fiori apps, as well as in any of the SAP BusinessObjects tools such as BusinessObjects Explorer, SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, or SAP Lumira. And, finally, HANA Live Analytics can pull data from not only from CRM, but also from ERP. This means you can leverage so called “cross virtual data models (cross VDMs)” that overlay e.g., CRM opportunities with ERP sales volumes to see what percentage of CRM opportunities where actually converted to ERP sales orders.

  • hybris Marketing (yMKT) integration with CRM:  SAP is also pleased to announce our enhanced integration of hybris Marketing with SAP CRM. This scenario enables a marketing professional to segment SAP CRM customer data via hybris Marketing Segmentation, replicate target groups to SAP CRM automatically via middleware, and assign the target groups to campaigns in CRM. You can find full details here. The scenario also enables automated call-list generation in SAP CRM, which is then executed from the Interaction Center. Additionally, Interaction Center agents can be informed via IC Alerts about relevant hybris product recommendations.

    A rapid deployment solution (RDS) package is available from SAP to help customers get up and running quickly with the hybris Marketing integration to CRM On-Premise. Interested customers can even take advantage of a trial of SAP hybris Marketing and SAP CRM.

Influence the SAP CRM Roadmap: SAP Customer Connection

SAP publishes detailed official roadmaps for the SAP Line of Business (LoB) Marketing, Sales, and Service. You can find those on the SAP Service Marketplace on the right-hand side of the page under the “Strategy and Roadmap” heading area. However, perhaps one of the best keep SAP secrets, at least until now, has been a program called SAP Customer Connection that allows SAP customers to influence the SAP product roadmap by suggesting incremental improvements and enhancements for existing products.

SAP CRM On-Premise has been participating in the Customer Connection program every year for all 5 years that the program has been available, and CRM has the highest Net Promoter Score and most number of downloaded notes of any product area participating in the program.

In the last round of the program, CRM 2015 (which wraps up next month), customers submitted over 171 improvement requests, many of which we have already been able to deliver. That’s the nice thing about the Customer Connection program: instead of having to wait for the next enhancement package to come out to take advantage of new features, when possible we deliver the enhancements via notes and support packages that can be taken advantage of immediately.

Check out my blogs, “You Asked for it, SAP Delivers: Twenty-Four (24) Cool New CRM Enhancements” and,  "You Asked for it (Again), SAP Delivers Fifty-Six (56) More CRM Enhancements" to get an overview of the program and the type of enhancements provided. Additionally, all of the enhancements delivered via the Customer Connection program can be found in the SAP Improvement Finder tool.  And if any one is interested in joining the program, the current round, CRM 2016, just kicked off on August 26, so you're just in time to join us!

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