At the Sapphire Now 2011 conference this week, SAP rolled out a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application for sales teams that marks the company's first direct effort to unseat Salesforce.com.
Arguably long overdue, the new SAP Sales OnDemand offering will differentiate itself along two major themes, said Sven Denecken, SAP vice president of the co-innovation line of Business OnDemand.
The first unique attribute, says Denecken, is to give salespeople more control over the environment. Existing customer relationship management (CRM) systems are largely driven from the top of the organization. Denecken says SAP is creating an environment where salespeople can choose when to share what information they want in what Denecken describes as a "Facebook-like" environment, thereby giving salespeople the ability to use the system both as a personal productivity application on either a traditional PC or mobile computing device and as a traditional enterprise CRM application.
Hopefully, Denecken says this capability will reduce the tendency to use separate applications to manage their own activities such as spreadsheets on Microsoft Excel, which either increases costs or leads to more data-entry errors as salespeople re-key data from one application into another.
There's no doubt that Salesforce.com and others have a significant head start over SAP when it comes to an on-demand application for the sales force. But Denecken notes that not only is there some disenchantment with Salesforce.com, but the majority of sales organizations are still relying on personal productivity applications. With what Denecken describes as an approach that should appeal to both salespeople and the IT organization, SAP finally expects to make a lot of headway in this category starting this year.
Pricing for SAP Sales OnDemand is expected to range between $30 to $100 per user per month.