CRM Software

SAP takes aim at "legacy CRM" of Salesforce

For years now SAP has been on the receiving end of cloud companies’ mockery. Today it turned the tables, targeting Salesforce.com and its “legacy” CRM model and detailing planned services it says are a better answer to today’s need to go “beyond CRM”.

At a London press conference this morning, Darren Roos, SAP general manager for northern EMEA, said, “Legacy CRM and the days of a best-of-breed application are over. You have to engage from Tweet to receipt. It’s impossible to win on technology built for an earlier generation – it would be like winning the Tour de France on a bicycle that’s 20 years old.”

Lest we were in doubt as to who he was referring, John Heald, VP of customer engagement solutions, told me:

“Salesforce is a legacy solution now: it’s 15 years old. They’re a legacy cloud vendor.”

With Salesforce’s Dreamforce annual jamboree going on in San Francisco this week the comments had laser-precision PR timing but SAP says it will have product to back up its talk.

The new Fiori user interface will be applied across product lines, replacing the unloved earlier front-end. At the same time, SAP is combining technology from Hybris, the e-commerce software company it acquired two years ago, with its own Cloud CRM service to achieve what it claims will be an insightful way to operate in the new omnichannel world. The new products are SAP Hybris Profile to gain a detailed view of customer activities; SAP Hybris Customer Experience for visualising customer behaviour; and the SAP Hybris as a Service (also known as YaaS) developer platform.

SAP’s argument is that CRM has traditionally been more of a customer record than a true aid to sales people. What’s needed is predictive analytics and a more evolved view of customers, what they’re doing and what they’re seeking. SAP is far from alone here. A new breed of companies like InsideSales are collating historic datasets to better guess the needs and desires of customers and prospects. By studying what buyers are searching for and what similar buyers did in the past, these companies believe they are arming sales functions in a way that CRM has never done.

Katie McAllister, director of business change and customer experience at global holiday tour company TUI, said SAP Hybris would help it offer an “effortless and engaging [process] right from someone thinking about their holiday to booking, going and returning. It’s future-proofing the business because in a business you have great sales people who will intuitively give customers what they need but then you’ll have others that can’t do that.”

Using software intelligence would mean that companies need not rely on the brilliance of sales “superstars”, she added.

Chris Cook, CIO of P&O Ferries, said SAP would help it cross-sell, upsell and “interact with customers no matter where they are” providing the 175-year-old company with a best-practice approach to e-commerce.

Of course, much will depend on the successful execution of products and timely releases but SAP is clearly in no mood to roll over to Salesforce – and it is even beginning to sound like the masters of hype and snipe themselves.


Also read:

Is SAP back on track?

InsideSales may be Salesforce’s brightest alumnus


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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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