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SAP's new HANA-powered CRM platform promises '360-degree' view of customer

Analyst says SAP's new offering could provide a foot in the door for HANA with non-SAP customers

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SAP is tying the HANA in-memory database to its CRM (customer relationship management) software and other applications, creating a package that will "allow organisations to revolutionise the way they engage with their customers," the company announced today during the Sapphire and Tech Ed conferences in Madrid.

Dubbed SAP 360 Customer, the offering will deliver "transaction, text and analytics processing on one platform," said Vishal Sikka, executive board member and technology chief.

A HANA support pack that will be announced this week provides "integrated application services, key enterprise capabilities for high availability, disaster recovery and integrated text analytics, as well as key OLTP optimisations that enable us to release our first mission-critical SAP Business Suite application, SAP CRM, to run completely on the SAP HANA platform," Sikka added.

The longer-term goal is for SAP's core ERP (enterprise resource planning) modules to also run on HANA. This will potentially allow SAP to replace with HANA the rival databases from Oracle and others that its ERP customers are now using.

Customer OnDemand, Jam will also be included

Meanwhile, CRM on HANA will be available as a RDS (rapid deployment solution), which provides fixed-priced bundles of services and software for quick implementations, SAP said.

While CRM on HANA is a "key component" of 360 Customer, SAP is also planning to incorporate its Customer OnDemand application, Jam social networking software and "several" mobile applications, according to a statement. The company didn't provide pricing information or availability dates for the full 360 Customer package.

All told, SAP 360 Customer will allow users to interact with customers, analyse customer behavior and complete transactions in real time, according to SAP. It will also have the ability to paint a "360-degree view" of a customer through a combination of transactional data, social networks and other sources, SAP said.

The announcement constitutes "an important move for SAP," Ovum chief IT analyst Carter Lusher said in a research note. "It illustrates how HANA can be leveraged as the foot-in-the-door product to pull SAP enterprise applications into a non-customer."

A cloud-based variation would be a real contender

The new offering also has interest from a purely technological perspective, Lusher said. "It creates a 'fast data' CRM, because customer data is in one high-performance repository that can be exploited by sales, marketing, service, and e-commerce."

In addition, SAP is planning to offer "aggressive pricing," another telling move, according to Lusher. "This makes sense as this CRM/HANA package is an important proof-of-concept that SAP can deliver HANA-based purpose-built business solutions that rebut the perception that SAP enterprise applications are both slow in performance and complex in deployment."

While the product stack is for now mostly on-premises software, "an unannounced but obvious-to-forecast transition to a cloud-based variation makes it a real contender in the marketplace," Lusher added.

SAP 360 Customer can also be seen as a competitive response to Oracle's recently announced "customer experience management" strategy, which couples its CRM software with other technologies gained through acquisitions such as social media marketing vendor Vitrue.



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