As part of its NetWeaver 2004 release, SAP has announced that its mySAP CRM suite will gain better analysis, performance and usability. The news came at CeBIT 2004, a huge technology trade fair held in Germany.
Chris Eldredge, product director of analytics for SAP global marketing, told CRM Buyer that the improvement to analytics is reflected in three areas: out-of-the-box deployment, more effective analysis of customer data and better navigability of customer information.
He noted that SAP has been striving to provide more streamlined usability so that all parts of a company can benefit from a CRM application. “It’s important to put tools in the hands of users who are not PhD actuaries,” he said. “CRM should be easy to use by users who are actually dealing with customers. That’s what we think these tools will do.”
In an effort to expand the reach of CRM within companies, SAP is banking on its beefed-up out-of-the-box implementation capabilities.
Eldredge noted that this move may be motivated by a recent trend in CRM — the shift from a desire for more features to a desire for better ROI.
Another important change in the CRM marketplace is an increased focus on making applications easy to use, which makes them more flexible overall, he said.
“Companies need to adapt to changing market needs, because the environment changes so quickly,” Eldredge noted, adding that, in the past, CRM software sometimes could not respond in a way that suited customers’ needs. Now, SAP’s use of NetWeaver has increased the company’s ability to build a more agile program.
Another enhancement to mySAP involves advanced analytical methods that allow a company to better evaluate customer data and trends. For example, the software lets users custom-design software agents that run unattended in the background. These agents analyze data from multiple sources and feed the results back into operational processes.
The value of this feature could be used across a company. AMR senior analyst Louis Columbus told CRM Buyer that such an enhancement is beneficial because each company has different needs and requires information specific to its customers.
“A company that manufactures aircraft is different than one building cars,” he said. “But both do need a way to handle data more effectively — and do it across divisions.”
He added that analytical methods could allow various departments, such as R&D, finance and IT, to share the same data and analyze it in different ways.
Agents on the Case
Eldredge agreed that agent-gathered data could be used to identify major and minor trends that may not have been visible in the past. For example, with customer loyalty, better analysis could pinpoint problems that are driving customers away.
“By looking at customer churn, you can see how you’re retaining customers,” he said. “This would then give you the ability to keep them.”
Often, companies do not have the necessary in-house expertise to do intricate analysis, Eldredge noted, so SAP’s new system could help in this regard.
Looking for Something?
The third major mySAP enhancement involves the software’s search capability. A new search engine uses in-memory database technology developed for NetWeaver that takes advantage of high-speed processing to retrieve customer-related data. Users of blade servers will experience even speedier search results.
The search technology is being touted as a way to improve performance in the campaign automation process, because it allows companies to model target groups in real-time.
Also, customer-service agents can perform complex searches across millions of accounts, potentially reducing customer interaction time.
Eldredge noted that more powerful search capabilities could have an effect on how a company performs customer segmentation analysis, allowing for better analysis of behavior patterns and campaign effects.
The combination of all three major enhancements should have a major effect on mySAP CRM implementation, he said. “The vision is to give tools to the people dealing with customers,” he noted. “These features will put intelligence into their hands.”