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SAP and Sybase finally unveil mobile CRM offering

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3rd Mar 2010
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After the usual raft of delays and postponements, SAP has revealed the first fruits of its partnership deal with Sybase in the shape of a mobile CRM app.

SAP has unveiled the delayed first fruits of its partnership deal with Sybase in the shape of a mobile CRM offering for sales staff and a mobile workflow product for managers.

The two companies first got together in March last year and were expected to deliver the CRM software, which runs on a range of smartphones, in the second half of last year. But beta testing did not start until late in the third quarter and took longer than expected.

Kevin Nix, SAP’s senior vice president of business solutions and technology, said at the launch of the applications at the CeBit trade fair in Hannover, Germany, yesterday: "Over the last few years, we have seen significant shifts in the expectations of end users and their relationship with enterprise software. The new generation of business users demand immediate access to SAP solutions anytime, anywhere using mobile devices."

The products enable mobile workers to access components of SAP’s Netweaver-based applications using Sybase’s Unwired Platform.

The Sybase Mobile Sales for SAP CRM software means that sales staff can now employ SAP’s CRM 2007 applications to find and update information about prospects, deals in progress and the like, without having to log into a virtual private network (VPN). The offering runs on Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile smartphones.

Staff no longer need to use a VPN because the packages run in a secure enterprise 'sandbox' environment to keep them separate from personal applications, which run elsewhere on the device. Personal contact details are pulled into the contact list located in the sandbox so that personnel can still call or text friends and family, but once they are logged into the sandbox, they are unable to use personal applications until they log out.

Email-like UI

The key benefit of such an approach, according to Sybase, is that organisations can allow employees to use their personal devices for work purposes rather than having to issue them with authorised business smartphones due to security concerns.

The Sybase Mobile Workflow for SAP Business Suite, meanwhile, is based on an email-like user interface and presents managers with tasks that need to be carried out such as approval for staff holidays.

In the past, they would be notified of such tasks via an email message and had to go to a web page to act on them, a task that likewise involved using a VPN connection. Now, however, messages are pushed to the new software, which also includes buttons so that jobs can be undertaken either online or offline after synching without having to go elsewhere.

All data going to and from the phone is encrypted and the new software runs on Windows Mobile version 5 and 6.5, Nokia’s Symbian operating system for its Series 60 edition 3 and 5 devices. An iPhone release has also been submitted to Apple for inclusion in the iPhone store and should be available in the next few days, while a Blackberry version is due in the second half of this year.

The licence for the CRM product starts at $15 per user per month, while the Workflow offering starts at $10 per user per month.

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