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SAP Plans to Hire 700 Consultants, Salespeople for CRM module and also upgrades CRM suite 

SAP plans to hire 700 Consultants  By Jennifer Sondag (

SAP AG, the No. 1 maker of business management software, plans to hire 700 more people for sales and consulting for the customer relationship management software it released this week.

The company plans to hire 200 salespeople and 500 consultants, SAP spokesman Markus Berner said. He did not say how long SAP would take to hire the employees. He said ``a couple dozen'' employees began working Sept. 1.

``While other companies cut personnel and attract customers by lowering prices, we are becoming even more successful'' in the market for software that helps clients sell to and service their customers, said Carol Burch, head of SAP's global customer relationship management division, in a faxed statement.

SAP has said it aims to be the No. 2 seller of such software by year-end. Siebel Systems Inc., the top maker of CRM software, in July reported second-quarter software sales fell below forecasts and said it would miss fourth-quarter profit estimates.

Upgrade of CRM Suite  By Kristin Palitza (

SAP AG has quietly launched a major upgrade of its CRM suite that it claims is the first version that can stand alone from its R/3 ERP back-end system. However, a closer look at the new applications set reveals that SAP is less open standards-based than it claims.

The ERP giant also divulged that it is looking to buy smaller players in the CRM space. New acquisitions could give it an extra boost in its goal to draw level with CRM leader Siebel Systems Inc and its $1bn in annual sales. SAP did not comment on which particular companies it is considering acquiring, but rumors have circulated recently that it is bidding for Nortel Network Corp's Clarify division, which is up for sale.

SAP said its new CRM applications, called CRM 3.0, are web-based and will now be able to mix and match with multiple back-end and front-end systems "to go after a non-traditional SAP customer base." However, the upgrade is only partly written in Java, with parts that are still in ABAP, SAP's proprietary code.

SAP director of CRM communications Jon Wurfl could not say what percentage of CRM 3.0 is still proprietary, but analysts at AMR Research have said that more than 50% of the code is still written in ABAP, which according to them "creates significant challenges in extending implementations over the web." Although AMR recommends current SAP users with significant investment in R/3 to pursue SAP CRM, it warns firms that are not in the SAP camp that the product requires "significant overhead".

CRM 3.0 is all in all a good move, since it offers a range of new functionality across the firm's core CRM spectrum. One of the main features is portal-based CRM with more than 20 roles for marketing, sales and service for increased productivity and effectiveness. Some of the portal tools come from SAP's TopTier acquisition from which it gained a portal environment and access management software.

However, AMR said that SAP has not yet completely finished the integration of the TopTier software, just as it still has to come up with a clear strategy for sell-side e-commerce (the sales part of CRM), which includes the MarketSet exchange operating environment of its partner Commerce One Inc. "CRM 3.0 has become the sell-side of MarketSet, so that we have the ability to sell through an exchange environment," Wurfl said.

Another key feature of CRM 3.0 is contact center software, SAP's first new complete offering since it cancelled its partnership with Nortel Network's Clarify division last April. SAP has developed some contact center tools in-house and in addition teamed up with Genesys for web chat, VoIP, routing and co-browsing.

3.0 also offers multi-channel synchronization, ramped up analytics, enhanced campaign management and marketing planning, lead and opportunity management, order and contract management integrated with supply chain management and finance, billing, auctioning and support for mobile and handheld devices.















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