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Amid the flurry of SAP announcements from CeBIT, SAP Co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe addressed what has been a relatively quiet market for SAP in recent years—CRM.
He described SAP’s evolved view on corporate CRM systems, in particular, and then teed up the marketing for the still-a-bit-nebulous SAP 360 Customer product and new features for SAP Customer OnDemand.
“We fundamentally believe that CRM is much more than sales-force automation,” Snabe stated, during a press call. “Even the cloud [CRM] offerings out there today are pretty old.” (Smack talk for Mr. Benioff?) What SAP customers want from CRM tools, according to Snabe, is more predictive CRM capabilities, better understanding of the individual customer, the ability to service each customer in a unique way without any additional cost, and to do all that in real-time.
In fact, CRM as an application is making a resurgence of sorts. A recent Gartner survey revealed that CRM has “edged past” ERP as the top application software investment priority. (Wait, this isn’t 1999, is it?) “This further validates a business focus on enhancing customer experience, with both mature and emerging regions emphasizing investments in CRM,” notes a Gartner press release.
SAP boasted that its internal CRM software was now running atop the HANA platform for 14,000 users. (Let the champagne corks fly!) And CFO Werner Brandt reported that SAP should be finished with its ERP on HANA deployment at some point in the third quarter.
The magnums of champagne will, of course, really start flowing when the customer base buys into SAP’s HANA vision. Snabe further talked up the “re-invention of the Suite” with HANA as the underlying platform and how that would affect customers. “We said the customer hates the upgrade,” he stated. “How can we give them a Suite that runs on HANA and then [one that]—stepwise—renews [the core business] programs.”
The overall market for the Suite on HANA is massive—if the ploy works. Snabe appeared confident during the press conference, which primarily served financial analysts: “So it’s a smooth migration of, say, 35,000 ERP customers moving into this.”
That’s the plan, anyway. So what was the reaction from customers at CeBIT to co-CEOs’ HANA-centric strategy? Snabe noted that SAP had set up nearly 2,000 customer meetings at CeBIT, which, he was quick to add, was up 100 percent over last year.
He tempered his enthusiasm with an acknowledgement of the pace at which SAP customers will likely move their transactional applications to the HANA platform. “This is a multiyear plan per customer, and not all customers will start this year,” Snabe stated. “This will not happen overnight.”