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mySAP CRM, Based on SAP NetWeaver, Provides a Complete Solution for Integrating Your Customer-Focused Processes

by Dr. Rüdiger Buck-Emden | SAPinsider

January 1, 2004

by Dr. Rüdiger Buck-Emden SAPinsider - 2004 (Volume 5), January (Issue 1)
 

In today’s networked world, you can no longer regard your business processes and the software that supports them as isolated entities. The ability to integrate people, information, and processes across your business ecosystem is now an indispensable feature for any business application.

A truly successful customer relationship management (CRM) strategy demands precisely this level of integration, for the simple reason that managing a customer interaction does not stop at just capturing an order. Linking customer-facing sales and service applications with back-office processes in your financials and supply chain management systems is just the start; channel partners and resellers need to be folded into the process as well. With traditional CRM frontend tools, integration issues will arise at almost every customer touch point, whenever you need to:

  • Capture complete, consistent views of customer-related processes across systems — from inquiries and order capture to fulfillment, delivery, and cash collections

  • Provide up-to-date customer data to your mobile sales and service team as well as your service representatives

  • Adapt and update cross-application processes that can change as quickly as your product offerings, customers, and partners

  • Provide customer access to your products and services through appropriate channels using the right technology

  • Accurately handle orders across multiple fulfillment systems — even those of your own vendors or partners

  • Manage various customer and product documents — from orders and invoices to product specs and sales forecasts — for ready distribution among customers, colleagues, resellers, and partner channels

To respond to challenges like these, you need the right combination of technology and solutions. Attaining this level of integration can be expensive, considering the resources that can go into maintaining connections or linking up to outside platform products. Only by having integration built in from the start can you reduce the total cost of a CRM implementation.

mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM) and SAP NetWeaver1 — SAP’s open, extensive application and integration platform — offer this combination of full-featured solutions and integration technology. mySAP CRM is among the first SAP solutions to be developed based on SAP NetWeaver. When you install this CRM solution, you are automatically tied into the portal, collaboration, business intelligence, and master data management functionality available from SAP NetWeaver. Figure 1 provides a glimpse of some of the mySAP CRM features that SAP NetWeaver supports.

Figure 1
mySAP CRM Features Enabled by SAP NetWeaver

Together, mySAP CRM and SAP NetWeaver form a complete customer relationship management solution, with no need for additional integration products. This solution brings openness and flexibility to your user channels, a highly intuitive user interface, powerful information management capabilities, and the built-in ability to integrate outside software and partners into your processes. SAP NetWeaver is also responsible for a lower TCO by providing tools and resources for full support throughout the entire software life cycle, from implementation, to daily operation, to software configuration and enhancements.

Here are just four areas where SAP NetWeaver is working behind the scenes to put mySAP CRM on the leading edge of end-to-end, customer-centric business processes:

User Interaction

Because of the vast number and types of customer-oriented activities in a company, a “CRM user” could refer to a customer, a partner, an entry-level employee, or a highly trained specialist. To engage them all, and with minimal training and maximum convenience, mySAP CRM user interfaces were specifically designed for easy navigation and a consistent look and feel (see the example in Figure 2).

Figure 2
Page Layout of the People-Centric User Interface of mySAP CRM

What does this mean for users? SAP created a people-centric UI specifically for ease of use, based on reusable interaction patterns and SAP Enterprise Portal technology.2 In the people-centric UI of mySAP CRM, users can be assigned roles tailored to a particular task or to industry-specific demands, and will encounter only a limited number of screen templates across all the systems they need (see Figure 3). So a service representative will already have a good feel for how to navigate and extract information from a screen built to access contract information from a sales system.

Figure 3
Common Look and Feel Across Different mySAP CRM Applications

mySAP CRM’s openness at the user interaction level means that users can access customer information from desktop PCs, mobile laptops, handheld devices, and tablet PCs (see Figure 4), and that they can choose from such diverse technical interaction channels as telephone, fax, email, pager, short message service (SMS), and voice over IP (VoIP).

Figure 4
A Sample mySAP CRM System Landscape

Those in IT will also appreciate the clear separation in mySAP CRM between the user interface and the business logic, and that communication between the two layers relies on a generic service interface. In other words, user interface development is streamlined, and certain interface components can easily be regrouped, reused, or redesigned. This approach, along with the reliance on open standards and a small set of reusable UI elements, conforms to Enterprise Service Architecture (ESA) — a blueprint for reusing your current application functions and making them available to a broader audience inside or outside your enterprise.

Information Management

With any CRM strategy, a looming question is how to ensure access to the range of document types and sources that hold customer-focused data. Users of mySAP CRM will need access to both structured and unstructured data. mySAP CRM offers a number of features for providing information to users at their desks and on the road. For instance, in the office, users can access unstructured marketing data through the Info Center, which provides knowledge management features based on SAP EP. And when a call comes into your Interaction Center, the Solution Database will immediately give agents the backend information they need as they speak with customers. For mobile users, the third-party tool BackWeb is incorporated into the mySAP CRM solution to ensure that all the unstructured information available to online users also reaches users’ mobile services.

Extensive analytical options for reports and performance measures of your CRM activities3 are also available from mySAP CRM applications due to the close integration with SAP Business Information Warehouse (part of SAP NetWeaver). mySAP CRM and SAP NetWeaver also provide common administration of master data across system boundaries, enabling the smooth operation of mySAP CRM with multiple, heterogeneous backend systems.

Process Integration

mySAP CRM supports a variety of integration scenarios designed to support greater responsiveness to customers, including:

  • Built-in process integration, spanning not only mySAP CRM but also applications, for instance, from mySAP ERP and mySAP SCM

  • Collaborative, cross-company business processes such as Channel Management for collaboration with business partners, or Extended Order Management for distributed processing of customer orders across all your fulfillment systems inside and outside the company

  • Built-in groupware integration, which enables the bidirectional exchange of activities and contact information between mySAP CRM and Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes

  • Complete workflow support using high-performance tools, such as the Workflow Modeler4 and predefined workflow processes

Process integration is key for a successful CRM implementation. This means, for instance, linking your campaign management processes to mySAP SCM to make sure a trade promotion not only leads to higher orders, but also ensures that stock is available and can be delivered in time! Or if you supply customers with products from various manufacturers, mySAP CRM allows you to integrate the various fulfillment systems of your suppliers — whether they’re SAP systems or not. These are just two examples of what direct process integration brings to your CRM strategy.

Why Should Your Solutions Follow the Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) Blueprint?

Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) is a generic model for a system architecture that will readily support service-oriented applications. ESA is designed to make cross-component application development more cost effective by improving speed and flexibility in the development, adaptation, and customer-specific configuration of user interfaces. The new, portal-based user interface of mySAP CRM has been developed according to this model.

Using Enterprise Services Architecture, you need not develop each and every innovative application from scratch. Instead, existing application services from quality-assured components can be made available as Web services, used as the basis for specific user interfaces, or integrated into completely new applications. mySAP CRM supports open Web services based on Web standards as well as RosettaNet as a semantic standard for the exchange of business objects.

By following the ESA blueprint in your own solution landscape, you can simplify the development of cross-functional, process-oriented applications that exceed the capabilities of conventional transaction processing based on relational databases. These applications include functions such as team collaboration, content management, and business analytics.

For more on how SAP supports ESA, see www.sap.com/netweaver.

Application Platform and Life-Cycle Management

NetWeaver runs on two technology stacks, capitalizing on the strengths that Java and ABAP each bring to application development. Similarly, in mySAP CRM, Java is the implementation platform for handheld and Internet (pricing, configuration, and e-commerce) applications, while ABAP is the basis for the core processes in mySAP CRM.

SAP customers will appreciate the ability to deploy mySAP CRM processes and functions gradually, in manageable, incremental steps based on specific business needs. This is achieved by the tight integration between mySAP CRM and the services of SAP Solution Manager, where mySAP CRM business processes are documented for smooth implementation and configuration.5 By reducing your implementation time and optimizing the use of your IT infrastructure, SAP Solution Manager enhances the ROI for your mySAP CRM solution.

Conclusion

With SAP NetWeaver technology at work, mySAP CRM offers a leading-edge solution that brings complete backend integration to frontend customer-facing processes. The benefits for mySAP CRM customers are clear: SAP NetWeaver, with its comprehensive integration capabilities across all application levels (people, information, and processes), helps reduce the total cost of mySAP CRM implementation and operation. Project teams don’t first have to spend precious resources integrating outside platform products. In addition, SAP NetWeaver provides SAP Solution Manager for implementing, operating, and monitoring all customer-focused processes, applications, and systems.

For more information on SAP NetWeaver, see www.sap.com/netweaver. For further details on the technology and business processes behind mySAP CRM, see www.sap.com/crm and the upcoming SAP PRESS book mySAP CRM — Customer-Focused Business Processes with SAP CRM 4.0, edited by Rüdiger Buck-Emden and Peter Zencke.


1 SAP NetWeaver includes SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW), SAP Enterprise Portal (SAP EP), and SAP Web Application Server (SAP Web AS), among other components and solutions. For more background on NetWeaver, see the article by Franz-Josef Fritz in this issue of SAP Insider.

2 For more on the SAP Enterprise Portal, see the July 2003 issue of SAP Insider.

3 See Christopher Eldredge's article "Don't Forget Analytics When Managing Customer Relationships" in this issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com) for more on analytics for mySAP CRM.

4 For more on the Workflow Modeler, see "Role-Managed Modeling of Business Processes" by Alan Rickayzen in this issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).

5 For more on SAP Solution Manager, see "Focus on Your Customers More Effectively and Cost-Efficiently with CRM Business Scenarios and SAP Solution Manager" by Hans-Heinrich Siemers and Andreas Schuh in this issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).


With SAP since 1990, Dr. Rüdiger Buck-Emden has held different management positions in the areas of development, product management, and strategic planning. Currently, he is the Vice President of CRM Architecture & Technology. Before joining SAP, Dr. Rüdiger Buck-Emden was development manager at Nixdorf Computer AG’s Business Systems unit. He studied industrial engineering, graduated in computer science and obtained a doctorate in the area of computer-based information systems. Dr. Rüdiger Buck-Emden has been the author and co-author of several books and numerous articles.

 

 
 

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