The secret sauce is tight integration to the entire Business ByDesign suite. That makes it possible to deliver the kind of deeply integrated CRM/ERP app that Salesforce has to partner to deliver.
That makes it possible to extend Sales OD to include direct process and data integration with the rest of the ByD stack's individual on-demand processes, making it the kind of deeply integrated CRM/ERP application that Salesforce has to partner to deliver. This on-demand integration will be in addition to direct integration to the on-premise SAP Business Suite.
The ByD connection will also bring Sales OD into the extended CRM world that Microsoft's Dynamic CRM is targeting with its xRM development environment, which has huge implications for partners as well as customers. Of course, for the most part, Dynamics is targeting the SMB market, whereas Sales OD is a large-enterprise product targeted, initially at least, at SAP's installed base.
Microsoft's Dynamics CRM will also have a different competitive profile due to its ability to provide a complete hybrid on-premise and on-demand CRM option, something SAP and Salesforce.com can't do. But the ability of Dynamics CRM Online to eventually make use of a rich palette of services to be available in the Azure on-demand environment -- on top of its current ability to extend the CRM model using the xRM SDK -- will put it on a collision course with Sales OD and ByD.
At a minimum, Sales OD will make it hard for Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics to pick off the easy wins among the SAP customers unhappy with earlier SAP CRM versions, much as ByD's CRM functionality will be able to cut into competing vendors' ability to poach the subsidiaries of smaller operating entities of SAP's large-enterprise customer base. And when
Sales OD can be extended to include ByD's non-CRM capabilities, the combination will be a potent competitor in the market.
When Sales OD reach this highly competitive milestone? Looks like the full complement of functionality, including the SDK, will await a future release of the product, probably in the 2012 timeframe. Meanwhile SAP will be pushing Sales OD as a "standalone" on-demand product in its initial versions, coming this year.
Sales OD comes as the latest entrant into SAP's on-demand portfolio, following ByD, Sourcing On-demand, Streamwork, and Carbon Impact (which is not on the ByD platform), and precedes the market entry of Travel On-demand and Career On-demand, due out later this year
This growing portfolio proves that a revolution is underway at SAP, and in the industry: The old days of SAP as a purveyor of big, monolithic enterprise apps is gone. Sales OD proves that SAP is going to mount a frontal attack on the nascent on-demand market. Even if it means disrupting the very forces it helped create.
Josh Greenbaum is principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting, a Berkeley, Calif., firm that consults with end-user companies and enterprise software vendors large and small. Clients have included Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and other firms that are sometimes analyzed in his columns. Write him at email@example.com.