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Fundamental career questions for CRM

Choosing between SAP CRM and Oracle CRM.

I am a computer engineer working on e-marketing solutions. I have some experience in CRM tools, such as Siebel on Demand (taken over by Oracle). I plan to get into SAP CRM and would like your guidance for the below- mentioned points:

1. Should I feel secure in SAP CRM as Oracle CRM is also going strong in the market?
2. Is certification really necessary? I am not planning to certify at the moment; I will do it later, once I get good hands on experience in SAP CRM.
3. Do I need to do SD along with CRM? I also see demand of CRM + BW in the market? Will SAP CRM alone be enough for me?

I rarely answer three-part questions because I tend to lose track of where they are headed, but yours was very clearly worded. Nice job.

Answer to 1: Yes, SAP CRM is not threatened by Oracle CRM. The reason being most SAP customers are going with SAP CRM. I would be shocked if more than a couple of SAP customers in the entire world ended up switching to Oracle CRM in the future. True, there are a decent number of SAP customer still running Siebel, which is now owned by Oracle, but I don't see Oracle getting into any new SAP accounts. Oracle has its work cut out just making sure those SAP customers running Siebel don't transition to SAP CRM. You may wonder why this is: the main reason is that companies are increasingly sold on the back-end integration and accountability of having one major e-business/ERP vendor that integrates CRM and ERP together.

Answer to 2: No, certification is not necessary. Certification is a topic I cover often in this column, so check the archives, as well as the current batch of questions, for more on certification. But you are absolutely correct in your emphasis on acquiring hands-on SAP skills and worrying about certification later on. I wish more people trying to break into SAP understood that, they'd have better luck.

Answer to 3: I think it's nice to understand some of the integration points and overlaps between SD and CRM, but it's not always necessary. The same is true of BW. CRM in fact touches on many areas of the SAP product. I wouldn't worry about that for starters. I would focus first on breaking into CRM, and then as you get clearer on your CRM focus, you can figure out which areas of SAP you want to learn that naturally tie into SAP CRM.

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I suggest going with a company that is implements CRM solutions more than SAP and Oracle: Accenture.

When it comes to down to it, clients want a CRM solution provider and not an CRM application provider.