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CeBIT: Social Media, Mobile Apps and the Cloud in CRM

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At the world’s largest hi-tech expo, CeBIT 2011 in hannover, Germany, about twenty companies specializing in customer relationship management (CRM) are demonstrating how they and their partners implement the IT world’s latest developments in their products. WOLFGANG SCHWETZ provides a detailed guide.

Gartner pro¬≠jects that by 2012 the worldwide market for social CRM will account for 8 percent of all CRM expenditures ‚ double the figure for 2010. Accordingly, this topic is the talk at the world’s biggest computer trade fair, even though it may not be taken up to the same degree by software.

There’s no disputing that the subject of cu¬≠stomer management as it continues to draw a lot of interest in the German business world. According to estimates by industry experts, about half of the companies in the B2B market still have not implemented a professional customer management system with the corresponding CRM software. The number of CRM users who are utilizing CRM solutions but are not satisfied with outdated versions or off-the-rack standard systems is also on the rise.

Representing the CRM market in Hannover are international suppliers equipped with ERP solution portfolios such as SAP, Microsoft, and Sage, along with CRM-fo¬≠cused small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with extensive partner networks, and niche suppliers. For individuals looking for CRM systems who don’t want to end up at booths pitching phone systems, document management programs, or data protection systems. Some of the sup¬≠pliers listed under the ‚CRM‚ keyword on the CeBIT pages really don’t have much to do with CRM in the strictest sense. On the other hand, the products and services dis¬≠played by the CRM providers themselves are very diverse, some having as many as ten different solutions on exhibit at the fair.

Hall 6

Let’s start with the CRM Arena in Hall 6, where there are only two CRM-related booths. Sellmore, a Sage partner, provides visitors with information about the Saleslogix and ACT! packages. Sage itself along with its software lines can be found in Hall 5. Pitney Bowes (main booth in Hall 6), a worldwide supplier of software solu¬≠tions in the areas of customer data, analy¬≠tics, and customer communications, will be introducing its Enterprise Geocoding mo¬≠dule. It allows addresses to be supplemen¬≠ted with geocoded information, thereby enabling real estate properties to be better analyzed.

On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, Karlsruhe-based CAS Software AG has an extensive agenda for its CeBIT appearance in Hall 6. With six partners, the SME-fo­cused CRM company will present the inno­vations contained in CAS GenesisWorld, the CAS PIA cloud-only product, and many other industry solutions, including some intended for organizations and associations. One highlight of their booth is the integra­tion of social media services such as Face­book or Twitter. Another first-time exhibit focuses on the enhancement of CRM to xRM, as well as new user interfaces for Apple products and Android-based end de­vices for mobile smartphone applications.

Also marking its 25th anniversary, Cobra will have six partners at its booth in Hall 6. New products and services emphasize the themes of mobility and efficiency. When one is on the go, customer data can still be ac­cessed by means of an iPhone, Blackberry, iPad or via the Internet. The Cobra CRM Pro contains a new efficiency improvement tool designed to help increase sales growth by double-digits.

Right next door, a new portfolio will be displayed by SugarCRM, a successful sup­plier of commercial open-source CRM soft­ware based in the US, along with its part­ners Genius4U Limited, Insignio CRM GmbH, CRMADDON Factory GmbH and DevoteamDanet. Their focus will be pri­marily on social CRM as well as Sugar Mo­bile for iPhones. Comprising some new tools for system developers and a Twitter connec­tor, the Sugar 6 program is available as an on-demand and an on-site solution.

Hall 5

In Hall 5, CRM is represented by ITML, an SAP Gold Partner that is showcasing an Internet-based solution that integrates very easily into SAP ERP. In other words, users do not require SAP CRM licenses or any SAP interfaces. The web portal, shop system, as well as the Customer Interaction Center (CIC) are all new, too.

Hall 4

In Hall 4, one should pay a visit to Vertec, a Zurich-based supplier of a CRM and ERP solution for the service sector. The software comes in three flavors: as a PC client in a network, as a web solution via browser, and as an iPhone app for mobile access. With this program, users on the move can check on payments and charges, update addres­ses, and take care of any administrative tasks.

SAP’s presence is dominant in Halls 4 and 5. SMEs may be especially interested in the on-demand SAP Business ByDesign service, run by SAP in its data centers and made available for a monthly flat rate per user (starting at ‚Ǩ79). Subscribers to this service are spared the investments in licenses and hardware required by conventional solu¬≠tions, and that preserves the user’s liquidi¬≠ty. The price also includes recurring costs associated with maintaining and updating the software. SAP offers an entry-level CRM package that still allows for additional ex¬≠pansion.

Uniorg, an SAP Channel Partner that spe¬≠cializes in the integration of heterogeneoussystem topographies into the SAP environ¬≠ment, is located in Hall 5. It is presenting itself as an SME partner offering the SAP Business One, SAP Business All-in-One and SAP CRM-RDS products. RDS stands for ‚Ra¬≠pid Deployment Solution,‚ and is intended to cut system integration time down to a few weeks.

Also in Hall 4 is another well-known SAP Gold Partner: Itelligenceout of Bielefeld. Besides offering SAP CRM and SAP Mobile Sales, the provider also develops customized SAP-based solutions. It will display its mobi­le SAP solutions for iPads, iPhones, and An­droid devices for the first time at the CeBIT: also on exhibit will be the new it.x-mobilesolution that enables SAP data to be sent on smartphones or tablets. In addition, the com­pany has developed three new sophisticated business models geared toward SMEs.

Also at its booth in Hall 4, Microsoft ex­plains what its recently introduced version of Dynamics CRM online/CRM 2011 can do. The new generation of this established CRM software is sure to impress with its intuitive user interface and many new functions. Among other things, it also supports the integration of social media platforms. It will soon be available as an on-premise version as well as in a cloud variant. Potentially drawing a lot of interest, Microsoft also has the new Azure cloud operating system me­ant to function with the SQL Azure cloud database. Making the switch becomes extra-appealing with a special price of €31 per user per month.

About 60 Microsoft partners are on hand to present their Microsoft-based, CRM-re­lated industry solutions and product deve­lopments. These partners include Infoman out of Stuttgart that has produced a soluti­on specifically for engineering. Visitors to this booth can also get some insight on cur­rent topics such cloud services and SAP integration.

Hannover-based Infinitasoffers CRM using Microsoft Dynamics xRM as well as a flexible development platform for complex corporate structures. The latter enables one to manage customers, suppliers, employees, and other business relationships. With Ora¬≠cle not attending the CeBIT, partners such as Infinitas are taking over the presentation of Oracle’s Siebel CRM.

Hall 2

Hall 2 is a must for users of Lotus Notes. At the booths of IBM and the German Notes User Group, one can find exhibitors whose CRM systems are based on Notes. One of these companies is GedysIntraware, which is now working even more intensively on iCRM: this system enables one to manage customer relations while on the go using an iPhone or iPad. An additional Gedys highlight is the Lotus Traveler for iPhones, iPads and Android devices. GIS, another Notes specialist for CRM solutions, is another partner displaying its wares at the IBM booth. Tapping into a hot trend, the GIS Col­laboration Center enables integrated social computing.

Lastly, it’s worth stopping in at Organiceat the joint booth for the City of Berlin in Hall 2, where the focus is on SMEs. At the CeBIT, it has on exhibit its latest CRM ver¬≠sion with components for business intelli¬≠gence, logbooks, and travel expenses: it also combines an integrated e-mail client, a web solution, and a CTI integration program.

*Wolfgang Schwetzis the owner of schwetz consulting (a CRM consulting firm based in Karlsruhe), a member of the CRM-Exper¬≠tenrat (a council of CRM experts), and the publisher of an annual CRM market profile review entitled ‚CRM-Marktspiegel.‚ This article courtesy CeBIT News.

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