On December 6, SAP revealed it had entered into a partnership with Recognition
Systems Group of the United Kingdom to add marketing planning and campaign-management
features to its customer-relationship management suite.
and Recognition Systems have agreed to jointly develop integration between SAP's
enterprise resource planning and data warehouse packages and Recognition's Protagon
suite, which offers customer-segmentation tools to help marketing professionals
plan and analyze marketing campaigns. The integrated offering will be available
in the second quarter of next year. Analysts say the partnership will help SAP
get to market on time in the CRM arena.
As we already indicated on a number of occasions, SAP has long been remiss in
addressing and delivering its CRM product line, and has faced a difficult internal
dilemma: whether to fully integrate its internally developed CRM modules with
its R/3 ERP system and risk the possibility of losing customers to quicker-to-market
ERP competitors or CRM niche players, or to jump on the bandwagon and hastily
deliver sub-optimal CRM functionality. It chose a third option of partnering.
We believe that SAP has caved under the pressure from the marketplace not only
to deploy a solution but to also articulate its product development strategy.
If SAP had blindly followed its tradition and built marketing software from
scratch, as it is doing for the sales and customer support components of its
CRM suite, it would have taken at least another 12-18 months to deliver. We
believe that this partnership will partially fill some gaps within SAP's CRM
product strategy, although no one can discount the painstaking effort in delivering
a fully functional product.
We believe that SAP is slowly moving in the right direction, and has huge financial,
sales and personnel resources to throw at the problem. Nevertheless, users are
advised to consider both product maturity and functionality in their evaluations
and make comparisons to competitive offerings. Users should also be aware of
the fact that SAP has a limited product alliance tradition.