SAP plays new roles

SAP plays new roles

By Paul Montgomery

The giant German software vendor SAP is best known for its enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, but its release has meant a shift of focus towards the customer, according to the company's customer relationship management (CRM) expert.

Barbara Althoff-Simon, SAP's lead global manager for CRM, said that the Business Scenarios feature of, and thus the entire SAP R/3 suite, was now built towards the role of the user.

"You need the underlying technology to support a consistent view of the customer. All of these things need to work across all channels," she said.

"One of these roles is a field worker. The technology behind that role is mobile, like handheld devices. Behind that is a mobile sales rep as a user. Behind that is an account manager. Business Scenarios is a complete set of functions [for those workers]."

The Workplace module within is the most recognisable portal-influenced part of the suite. The interface can be customised for each type of employee within an organisation, with functionality at the document management and clerical end for administrative workers, right up to access to business intelligence, financial records and confidential documents at the executive level.


Like many ERP vendors, SAP has invested a lot of time and money redeveloping its software to deal with the shift in organisations' attitudes to dealing with their customers.

"Our customers are dealing with CRM, and there are some trends to move to CRM," said Ms Althoff-Simon. "How to deal with their customers is now more important to them. It is first business process re-engineering they will do, then they will look for a solution from a company like SAP."

The trend towards mobile salesforces supported by a fleet of laptop computers has built to the point where SAP, and many of its partners, have had to develop software to support their efforts on the road (like iXOS with its Mobile/R3 solution).

"Our own solutions for mid-range companies have to support laptops. We have our own transport server between them," said Ms Althoff-Simon.

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