The UI improvements are part of the latest upgrade called CRM 2007, discussed last week during the company's fifth Influencer Summit in Boston. The enhancements were the result of feedback from 150 customers, SAP executives said.
The improvements expected to make the software friendlier to sales and marketing professionals include the ability to embed in the portal-like interface maps, news feeds and other services from Internet companies such as Google and Yahoo.
Salespeople, for example, could find news feeds or maps on customers they plan to visit helpful. Marketers, on the other hand, could also benefit from the latest product news from competitors.
In addition, the upgrade offers a slimmed-down CRM application for access from Apple's iPhone or Research In Motion's Blackberry device. The mobile access offers some customer information, but not the full functionality available on the desktop.
Besides the interface improvements, SAP has integrated new capabilities, such as trade promotions management, pipeline performance management, and business communications management. The latter, for example, makes it possible within the user interface for a customer service rep to reach an expert outside the call center. Communication can be via Internet telephony or on an online meeting through CRM 2007's collaboration software.
Other new capabilities include real-time offer management software that incorporates business intelligence, so call-center workers can suggest products and services during customer interactions.
CRM 2007 is scheduled for release this month. SAP's major rival in CRM is Oracle, which has a broad CRM offering through its acquisitions of Siebel and PeopleSoft. Other rivals include Chordiant Software and Infor.