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Sizing up mySAP CRM

One California company describes the decision-making process that led to its choosing mySAP CRM over competitive offerings.

When an IT team at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Varian Inc. set out to improve sales for the company's various product lines, the team members knew they needed to get a grasp on their customer data -- which existed on legacy systems around the world.

Varian, a manufacturer of scientific instruments, selected mySAP Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to streamline and improve its customer service and sales activities and to standardize eight different systems being used in its global business units.

When weighing competing CRM products, Varian executives considered Oracle Corp.'s bid to buy PeopleSoft Inc., said Erdal Toprakhisar, Varian's chief information officer. When the company made its final decision, PeopleSoft was a close second.

San Mateo, Calif.-based Siebel Systems Inc. leads the global $3 billion market for CRM software, followed by SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft, according to Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group.

"Oracle made an announcement that they would eventually merge everything under their old umbrella, [if the company were successful in its attempt to acquire PeopleSoft]," Toprakhisar said. "Our fear was that if we went with PeopleSoft and the acquisition went through, then we would have to stop the implementation and begin again with Oracle's new architecture."

Varian had an extensive evaluation process, during which as many as 10 different CRM products were reviewed, Toprakhisar said. Right after the announcement that Oracle would make a bid for PeopleSoft, Varian did not invest any further resources in the PeopleSoft option, he said.

PeopleSoft currently has vertical offerings for financial services, including versions for banking and insurance, and is focused on government customers. Like Siebel, SAP focuses on offerings for nearly two dozen industries and works to streamline integration with back-office applications.

"SAP held the edge because it is [a] totally integrated system, a single-vendor solution, and we felt an addition of the CRM will further strengthen our partnership with SAP," Toprakhisar said.

The company began implementing mySAP CRM almost immediately after a Sept. 30 decision to invest in the product, he said. The system is scheduled to go live next year, and a final price tag on the project has not been finalized, Toprakhisar said.

Also factoring into the decision was the fact that Varian uses SAP for its ERP system.

Varian has joined the growing number of companies opting for a large vendor like SAP, rather than a traditional CRM provider, said Michael Doane, an analyst with Meta Group.

"We didn't consider mySAP CRM a viable alternative until recently," he said. "It's finally matured and being considered and chosen much more."

With mySAP CRM, Varian employees will have access to real-time analytics, and call center agents will have a complete view of customer interaction information, Varian executives say. Mobile service capabilities also give employees in remote locations access to up-to-date customer information.

The software will also help Varian coordinate sales and communications among departmental units, he said. The software has the ability to integrate with Varian's back-end systems, financial reporting tools, and other operating information, he said.


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