SAP is releasing the latest improvements to its SAP Business One CRM software and business-management tools, facing off against Microsoft and a slew of well-established third-party providers in the SMB space.
SAP entered its Business One software into the small and midsized business (SMB) market during the second quarter of 2003.
SAP has been waging an uphill battle in the space since then, said Wendy Close, research director and lead analyst on CRM for SMBs at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. In January, Microsoft entered the CRM market with an offering for small and medium-sized businesses.
"They're going to have some fierce competition, and it isn't going to be easy," she said.
Close gave high marks to SAP's drag-and-relate data navigation system, which allows users to highlight and drag pieces of information on the screen. Other functionality within the software allows for financial management with multiple currencies, as well as budgeting and bank reconciliation. The software also includes an inventory-management system and a reporting module that allows easy access to any data.
The new version, which is available now, will include a new software development kit, offering users and software partners an advanced development environment, said Gadi Shamia, SAP's vice president of Business One.For example, the kit allows users to make changes to the software by modifying search fields and printing functions, Shamia said. In addition, SAP is exposing all its business logic to its partners, so developers won't have to rewrite the code, he said.
That feature reduces the need to purchase add-ons and eliminates the need for different user interfaces through patchwork integrations, he said.
The latest version will also provide additional CRM functionality, providing new features for sales and service automation, Shamia said. Those improvements will connect a company's financial officer to information provided by customers, the sales force, suppliers and business managers.
CFOs will be able to drill down into sales information, while a salesperson will be able to reduce risk by exploring a customer's debt, and buyers will be able to plan purchasing according to real demand, based on sales opportunities that are managed by the software, Shamia said.
SAP Business One is targeted to companies with less than 100 employees. The software costs about $25,000 for eight to 10 users, and it can be installed in only a few days, according to Shamia.
SAP's CRM software also includes mySAP All-in-One for midmarket companies and mySAP Customer Relationship Management for large companies.
SAP is hoping to grab some market share from Irvine, Calif.-based Best Software Inc., which holds the largest market share in the space with its SalesLogix and ACT brand software, according to Close.
Also, Salesforce.com offers a low-cost hosted solution, in which a company pays between $65 and $125 per month per user for sales automation capabilities and some marketing and service functionality.
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