Salesforce had a perfect run with its consistent focus on CRM functions and a few (expensive) acquisitions. In fact, the central communication and sales tool for many SAP customers was Salesforce CRM; its openness and simplicity brought Salesforce many customers. Salesforce generated CRM hype and SAP was left behind. Salesforce became the epitome of CRM among SAP customers and the IT scene.
Single point of truth
Former SAP CEO Bill McDermott wanted to eliminate this competitive disadvantage and bought the American IT company Qualtrics for 8 billion EUR. This union was meant to create a hyper-CRM that would not only manage relationships with customers and prospects, but also provide detailed information on public opinion and sentiment at the same time, since Qualtrics had a lot of experience and success in the field of automated opinion research and customer surveys. With Qualtrics and SAP’s CRM, customers could establish single point of truth (SPOT) systems in their own companies.
The combination of old SAP CRM with new Qualtrics on a consolidated database platform would have been called, unsurprisingly, C/4 Hana. It was a shining moment for Bill McDermott when he presented this idea in Orlando at the SAP Sapphire event many years ago. Even Professor Hasso Plattner, one of the original SAP founders, was taken with the C/4 innovation and announced his support in front of the assembled press and analysts. It remained nothing but a dream, however, as reality turned out differently.
Old SAP strengths
Anyone who has been familiar with SAP system landscapes since R/3 knows about the high value of integrating all XXM solutions (CRM, SCM, HCM, PLM, SRM, etc.). The current SAP CEO Christian Klein visited Qualtrics’ headquarters in Utah, USA, shortly after the C/4 announcement. He came back with very mixed feelings: what Qualtrics had developed over the past years was extremely remarkable—but this autonomous system could not be integrated into the classic ERP world; it was technically too different. And Klein was right. However, Qualtrics retained its autonomy, went public on the stock market, and was ultimately still a great success for the SAP CFO Luka Mucic.
The last will be the first
SAP remembered its old strengths and began to consolidate CRM. No one ever doubted that the programmers and developers at the SAP headquarters in Walldorf, Germany, know what they’re doing. In the past few months, an almost new CRM was developed and then tested intensively by a renowned Swiss SAP customer together with Salesforce.
While in the final report Salesforce was portrayed as a better Excel for sales, SAP CRM was reported as better at both integration and user interface. CRM is thus more than a singular solution, and there is always added value from the harmonious interaction of all ERP components. SAP has obviously found its way back to its old self and has brought a well-thought-out CRM to its community. I hereby dub SAP the new CRM king.
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