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SAP CRM Update

Welcome to the Q2 2016 edition of the SAP CRM on-premise newsletter.  As we mentioned in previous newsletters, even though SAP is making amazing strides with our Cloud business, we also still have quite a few customers – across various industries – who prefer to keep their feet planted firmly on the ground and leverage their investments in our on-premise solution. In fact, SAP CRM on-premise just celebrated our 40th consecutive fiscal quarter (that’s 10 straight years) of continued growth in total number of customers, installations, and end users!

And it’s not just customers who have taken notice. Analysts also recognize the strength of our on-premise SAP CRM solution. In their most recent Forrester Wave: Customer Service Solutions for Enterprise Organizations, Forrester positioned SAP CRM among the industry’s leaders, right on the line between “Leaders” and “Strong Performers”, ranking even slightly ahead of our very strong SAP Cloud for Service offering.

EHP4 Released for SAP CRM 7.0

Earlier this year, in January, SAP released both EHP3 SP11 as well as EHP4 (SP01) for SAP CRM 7.0 – with EHP4 being our first new CRM enhancement package in quite some time. You can find the full details of what’s included in EHP4 here. And you can find the SP11 release notes here. Warning: navigating down to the documentation in the release notes on the Help Portal takes a bit of practice, as it requires a few clicks to drill down to the actual content. But don’t give up, keep clicking; it's totally worth it :wink: . Also, if you are an ASUG member, make sure to check out the recording of the webinar I presented, What’s New with SAP CRM 7.0 Enhancement Package 4.

It is important to note that EHP4 represents a significant change in SAP’s strategy around the concept of enhancement packages and delivering new functionality. In the past, when SAP would wait 18 months between new software releases, each new enhancement package would contain hundreds of new features and functions that the customer had to sift through. Now, as mentioned in previous versions of this newsletter, SAP has moved to a quarterly release-cycle and has adopted a new approach of releasing new features via notes and support packages as soon as each feature is available, instead of waiting 18 months to release all new features together.

So what does this mean for customers? As illustrated in the diagram below, EHP4 contains everything that SAP delivers in EHP3 SP11, plus some additional features like Debt Collection Management for Public Sector, Investigative Case Management enhancements, extensions to the Order-to-Cash scenario (such as Revenue Accounting integration, integration of scale prices with SAP Convergent Charging, etc.), various enhancements for the Utilities industry, and more.

EHP4 also contains the baseline code-foundation for a future concept we are working on that will, at some point in the future, hopefully allow SAP CRM to be deployed on top of SAP ECC in a co-deployment model. This deployment option will be targeted primarily at existing SAP ERP customers who have not yet deployed SAP CRM, but want to start taking advantage of some CRM capabilities to complement their ECC functionality.

Customers who are considering moving to EHP4 (versus staying on EHP3 for a while longer) will likely make their decision based on their required SAP NetWeaver version. EHP4 is built on the new NetWeaver 7.5 version which enables many new features and capabilities not available with NetWeaver 7.4 such as improved support for oData, Internet of Things (IoT), SAP Fiori (including offline mode), and much more. Here’s a good blog post with more info about NetWeaver 7.5. So for most customers, it probably makes sense to move to EHP4 as soon as their schedules permit.

**SAP CRM Updated Roadmap**

As mentioned in previous blog posts, you can always find the most current line of business roadmaps on the SAP Service Marketplace including the Service Roadmap, Sales Roamap, Marketing Roadmap, and more. These line of business roadmaps cut across SAP products and are not specific to CRM as they also contain content from ERP and other SAP solutions.

In addition to the line of business roadmaps above, you can now also find the latest SAP CRM Roadmap on the SAP Roadmaps Site.

SAP Customer Connection CRM2016 Program: 100 More New Features!

Customers often ask about the future roadmap for SAP CRM. Being a fairly mature product with a rich-set of functionality that has been developed over the years, SAP has primarily turned our roadmap for SAP CRM over to our customers. We’ve done this through an initiative called the SAP Customer Connection program, in which SAP CRM has participated in for the past 6 years.

The Customer Connection program typically opens each summer, allowing customers to start submitting their enhancement requests and voting on requests submitted by other customers. Then we close the submission period in the fall and begin evaluating submissions and conducting feasibility studies and effort estimates within our development organization. We announce the results in the winter and begin development on the selected topics with the goal of completing all developments by late summer the following year. As each new development is finished, it is usually made immediately available to customers via a note; where possible we also try to back-port the new enhancements to as many lower releases as possible.

In the CRM2014 round of the Customer Connection program SAP was able to deliver twenty-four (24) cool new CRM enhancements. In the CRM2015 round of the program we nearly doubled that with fifty-six (56) exciting new CRM enhancements! This year with CRM2016 we are hoping to again double our efforts and are planning deliver around one-hundred (100) or so more amazing CRM new enhancements later in the year, including things like:

  • Type-ahead text determination/search (see SAP Note 2002900)
  • Support for HTML5/SAPUI5 apps in CRM WebClient
  • Drag and drop of attachments
  • Multi-column sorting
  • Spellcheck of Interaction Record comments
  • RTF (Rich-Text Format) Editor support/improvement
  • And many more…

Please see the SAP Improvement Finder for a list of new features that have already been released.

Not Your Grandfather’s User Interface: The *New* CRM WebClient UI

You’re probably already aware of the exciting stuff SAP has been doing with Fiori UX for CRM… such as offline support for select Fiori apps as well as the ability to run Fiori apps in the Cloud. And while we will continue to further enhance Fiori, including introducing a set of Service-related Fiori apps later in the year, we are also doing some amazing stuff with the CRM WebClient UI as well! So customers don’t necessarily need to move to Fiori to experience an enjoyable end-user experience.

For example, if you haven’t already seen it, a new “Fiori-style” skin called Blue Crystal is available for the CRM WebClient UI that provides a similar look and feel to the user experience available in Fiori, SAP Cloud for Customer and other next-generation SAP products. In addition, the CRM WebClient UI now supports things like “type-ahead search” so that you only need to type in the first few characters of your search query before the system shows you a list of matching results (see SAP Note 2002900 for details).

You can stay up to date on all the latest new WebClient UI features by following the CRM WebClient UI Enhancements page on SDN.

Several cool new UI Framework features were introduced with EHP4 SP01 back in January including:

  • New “Fiori-style” Blue Crystal theme for the CRM WebClient
  • Creation of direct URLs for saved searches
  • Ability to filter recent items by object type
  • Support for custom help documents

And you can even already take a look at what is being planned with EHP4 SP02 for May including:

  • Integration with the SAP Theme Designer
  • “Progress Indicator” THTMLB Tag to graphically display values
  • “Floating Pager” for table controls
  • Visual highlighting of mandatory fields

One of the WebClient UI enhancements that I am most looking forward to will hopefully be the ability to integrate HTML5/SAPUI5 widgets into any CRM WebClient screen – hopefully planned for sometime later this year!

Product Spotlight: Hybris Commerce Integration with SAP CRM

Hybris Commerce integration allows customers to leverage SAP CRM functionality with SAP Hybris Commerce. Sales orders created from the Hybris E-Commerce storefront can be automatically replicated to CRM/ERP, and pricing information can be retrieved from either backend system as well. Customers on the Hybris storefront can also can view their open SAP CRM service requests, service contracts, and invoices.

In addition, agents in the SAP CRM Interaction Center agents can launch the Hybris Assisted Service Module (ASM) via SAML single sign-on to assist customers making purchases on the Hybris storefront.

The “Hybris CRM Integration 1.0” package is available for download from SAP Service Marketplace. Hybris integration is currently only supported for Hybris 5.7 (6.0 and 6.1 support planned for later in 2016) and is compatible with SAP CRM 7.0 EHP1 SP15 and higher. For more info please see this Hybris Wiki page and SAP Note 2293490.

SAPPHIRE NOW & ASUG Annual Conference 2016: CRM Influence Council

Thank you to all of the customers who joined us in at SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference in Orlando last month for the CRM Influence Council. If you are not familiar with the ASUG CRM Influence Council, it is a select group of SAP CRM (on-premise) customers who meet (virtually) regularly throughout the year online in order to trade tips, tricks, and best practices as well as to help steer the direction of SAP’s CRM on-premise investments. Additionally, once a year the council meets in person at ASUG Annual Conference in order to hold a design-thinking brainstorming session about ways to improve SAP CRM.

Although membership in the Influence Council itself is invitation only, the design-thinking workshop at SAPPHIRE & ASUG was open to everyone! We had a great turnout with dozens of customers joining us for two sessions. We also received plenty of feedback from participants, both positive and constructive. The consensus was that customers love the new Fiori interface for SAP CRM and want to see even more Fiori apps, particularly for areas like Customer Service.

  • More Fiori apps, especially for Customer Service, Field Service, Repair Depot, etc.
  • Enhancements to Contract life cycle management
  • Better support for large Sales Contracts and large Sales Orders with e.g,, over 1K line items
  • More functionality for Claims and Returns in CRM (rather than ERP)
  • More flexibility and control over configuration and personalization of the UI for end users

Closing Thoughts: What the heck is “Digital Transformation”?

As a forty-something aging hipster, I try my best to stay current with pop-culture trends and memes. I wear super-skinny jeans to the office. My Twitter hashtag game is still #OnFleek. And I’ve mastered both the “Dabb” and the “Whip/Nae Nae” dances. But keeping up with CRM trends is not quite as easy! For example, these days in CRM it’s apparently chic to be “digital” – whatever that means.

If you talk to a group of executives, almost all of them will nod their heads proudly and profess to be undergoing some kind of digital transformation initiative. But if you ask people what “digital transformation” means, suddenly everyone looks down in silence at their brogue oxfords (or flip flops, if you’re in Silicon Valley).

“Digital transformation” is the latest cool buzzword replacing older, formerly-cool buzzwords like: “Web 2.0,” “Enterprise 2.0,” “Social Business,” “Social Enterprise,” and “Digital Enterprise.” Essentially, the term “digital transformation” is often used to refer to any number of cool(ish), new(ish) technologies like: cloud computing, social media, mobility, smart connected devices, wearables, virtual reality, IoT (Internet of Things), etc.

However, if you ask me, the term “digital transformation” doesn’t make a lot of sense. Clock-radios from the 1980’s were digital, weren’t they? So were fax machines. And pagers. And that old BlackBerry in the bottom desk drawer, sitting by the even older Palm Pilot. So why is “digital” suddenly being used a proxy for new and cool?

And what exactly are companies transforming with digital technologies anyway? Does retooling your company’s website to optimally run on mobile devices constitute a “digital transformation”? If you hire an intern to create an Instagram page for your brand, have you suddenly joined the digital economy? Did you really transform your organization’s business processes; or did you just add another social media channel for your Marketing team to send out the same old spam?

There are however some examples of companies who have succeeded at true digital transformation. Netflix, for example, was famously able to disrupt (and bankrupt) traditional brick-and-mortal video rental retailers like Blockbuster with the new paradigm of digital-video streaming. In fact, last I heard, every Blockbuster store in the country with the exception of nine Blockbuster locations in Alaska had all been shuttered.

On the other hand, H&R Block was able to avoid a similar fate by transforming it’s business model in response to competition from online tax preparation products like Turbo Tax that allow people to prepare and file their taxes online without going into a branch office. So far at least H&R Block has been able to fend off the attacks from tools like Turbo Tax by launching its own online offering.

Google Nest is another perfect example of true digital transformation. Every-day household items such as garage door openers, front door locks, lights, water faucets, and thermostats had remained virtually unchanged for decades. But now they can all be controlled remotely from an app on your mobile phone.

One less obvious example, is athletic apparel upstart Under Armour who has been able to disrupt the business of traditional athletic apparel manufacturers like Nike and Adidas by building a huge online digital health and fitness community of over 80 million users (thanks to various acquisitions of online fitness communities like MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, and Edmondo).

And I’m sure that you can think of dozens or more examples, whether it is Yelp making printed telephone books obsolete, Waze replacing that old stand-alone GPS device on your car dashboard, Airbnb disrupting the hotel business, or Uber revolutionizing the antiquated taxi cab paradigm… or any of countless other examples.

So how does this affect you -- and SAP?  It's up to us together to monitor emerging next-generation digital technologies and to think about how these technologies will impact, and potentially disrupt, current best-business practices. SAP is already aggressively investing in Cloud technologies, Big Data Analytics, Mobile access, and Internet of Things. As one of the few companies with expertise across almost all industry verticals and the entire end-to-end supply chain, SAP is uniquely positioned to help you begin your digital transformation -- as rapidly, or as methodically, as you prefer :smile: .

In the meantime, my wife and I are still waiting for someone to make an app will enable our son to make his bed or put the toilet seat back down remotely from his smart phone. Now that would truly be transformative!

John Burton on behalf of the SAP CRM product management and development team