Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Software From SAP Rivals Salesforce.com And Microsoft CRM Online

At today's Cebit show, software giant SAP will unveil a new application called Sales OnDemand. The program is has the potential to rival comparable software applications such as Salesforce.com and Microsoft CRM Online.

SAP's Sales OnDemand is among of a series of software applications in which the company is positioning as program extensions to its in-house ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems. The strategy behind the application is to preserve revenue streams from on-premises software while handling the needs of those same users who want to expand and innovate their IT services through SaaS (software as a service).

The software company is designing the applications to include the platform that underlies SAP's Business ByDesign ERP software suite. According to a statement by SAP, Sales OnDemand will be released this year in addition to specialized applications for expense management and human resources.

SAP's vice president of product management and head of co-innovation Sven Denecken said that the company is focusing on new approaches to its platforms and will emphasize a "person-centric" design principle. That means a more user friendly, Facebook-like design for Sales OnDemand. In addition, the new software contains core SFA (salesforce automation) capabilities, Denecken added.

The cost of the new application has not been released, but according to Denecken it will be "very competitive" with comparable products on the market.. But the application's seamless integration with SAP's ERP systems will give Sales OnDemand an attractive edge, he added.

SAP is also planning to release at the launch of the new application mobile support capabilities for iPhones, BlackBerries and Android devices, he said.

Sales OnDemand is not yet a complete replacement for SAP's existing CRM (customer relationship management) software, said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research.

"At the beginning, I would say it will have 20 percent of the full suite. But that 20 percent is what people use 80 percent of the time," he said. For now, much of the value derives from financial software tools as well as the tracking and management consumer relations.

"This is a sales tool for sales people," he added. "Part of the problems most people face in terms of (CRM software applications) is they've been designed for managers, (who) want things tracked and reported. This does that in a much more natural way. ... It's a very sexy product."

SAP hopes to attract the interests of many businesses in a number of industries with Sales OnDemand. The product can be applied to commercial retailers to consulting firms specializing in financial risk management software.

Other leaders in the CRM software industry are adapting to the computing habits of end users. For instance, Salesforce.com has added a feature of social networking and collaboration with the release of a tool called Chatter. Another example is Microsoft's CRM Online, as this platform now applies a "role-based" user interface while offering a native Outlook client.