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 Introduction

There are many rivalries in the world that divide families, friends, and nations: Mac versus PC, RedHat versus Suse, PlayStation versus Xbox versus Wii, Manchester United versus Liverpool, Bayern München versus 1860 München, Barcelona versus Real Madrid. But perhaps no rivalry stirs up more animosity than the ICI versus SAPphone Interface rivalry!

ICI (Integrated Communication Interface) and SAPphone are two SAP certifiable interfaces that both support integration of non-SAP third-party multi-channel communication products, such as Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) into the SAP CRM Interaction Center. SAPphone only supports telephony, while ICI supports telephony, e-mail, and chat. Additionally, SAPphone only works in a “pull mode” requiring agent-initiated screen refreshes, while ICI provides real-time screen-pop (automatic population of customer data onto the screen) via so-called “push mode”.

Supporters of SAPphone like the fact that SAPphone is low cost, simple to use, and Microsoft TAPI compliant; SAPphone supporters attack ICI as being complex and less-widely implemented in the current customer base.

Proponents of ICI praise the fact the ICI is web-service XML/SOAP based and that ICI supports real-time chat, e-mail, and telephony; ICI proponents dismiss SAPphone as outdated and one dimensional (telephony only).

 

Interaction Center WinClient

SAPphone has historically been the only official option available for IC WinClient customers who want server-side telephony integration. IC WinClient customers who wanted e-mail or chat integration could use a special client-side (Web browser Active X control) solution from Genesys, leveraging the Genesys Suite and the Genesys G+ Adapter inside the IC WinClient.

While SAPphone had historically been the only official solution for IC WinClient customers, some IC WinClient customers had implemented the newer ICI interface on custom project basis. Today SAP officially supports the use of ICI for multi-channel interaction for the IC WinClient, including telephony, e-mail and chat. ICI for IC WinClient is available with CRM 5.0 (SP08 and beyond) and CRM 4.0 Add-on for Service Industries (SP07 and beyond). The ability to use ICI with IC WinClient provides IC WinClient customers with a greater choice of multi-channel options, and offers reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) and increased flexibility to eventually migrate from IC WinClient to IC WebClient.

To implement ICI for IC WinClient, customers must perform some manual steps; they must also apply pre-requisite note 1038519.  For more information please see OSS note 1001703 or contact developer Satit Nuchitsiripattara.

 

Interaction Center WebClient

ICI is the SAP-recommended interface option for IC WebClient customers who want multi-channel integration including telephony, e-mail, and chat. SAP also supports the use of the older, RFC-based SAPphone interface (for telephony only) or IC WebClient customers – particularly for existing SAPphone users who have recently migrated from IC WinClient to IC WebClient and need to buy some time before switching to the newer, more powerful ICI interface. For all other IC WebClient customers, SAP exclusively recommends ICI.

 

Summary:

SAPphone has traditionally been the interface supported by SAP for IC WinClient, providing telephony integration. As of CRM release 5.0 SP08 and CRM 4.0 Add-on for Service Industries SP07, it is also now possible to use ICI for multi-channel integration in the IC WinClient.

ICI is the recommended multi-channel interface for IC WebClient customers. SAPphone is also now available in the IC WebClient as of CRM 5.0 for telephony only; however, SAP only recommends this solution as a short-term solution for IC WinClient SAPphone customers who migrate to IC WebClient and want to continue using SAPphone.

ICI is definitely winning hearts and minds of SAP CRM Interaction Center customers and is establishing itself as the de facto standard for CTI and multi-channel integration. Yet, SAPphone still has a loyal following among IC WinClient telephony-only customers. Like well-aged wine, vinyl records and classic cars… SAPphone refuses to go away.

 

Additional Resources

You can find the ICI and SAPphone specifications on SDN at SAP Integration and Certification Center (SAP ICC)–Integration Scenario – Interface Reference Table.  Click link “Integration Services (alphabetical)”. And then select the desired interface:

  • For ICI click on “CA-ICI-CTI” and then “Integrated Communication Interface”
  • For SAPphone click “BC-CTI” and then “SAPphone – Telephony in SAP Systems, Interface Description”

For a full list of vendors certified for ICI and SAPphone, please visit
http://global.sap.com/community/ebook/2013_09_adpd/enEN/search.html

  1. Enter “Telephony”, “Chat”, “E-mail” or “Sapphone” as the search criteria.
  2. Select the contact from the results list.
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18 Comments

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  1. Mike Petrosh
    Having implemented both solutions in the field, the XML solution with the web client is superior.
    Scalability in an application is a major decision factor. Choosing SAP phone limits the user to the telephony channel only. True SAP phone is low cost, but the limitations and the costs of moving to the ICI solution to get email and chat can be prohibitive. Prior to blueprinting, users/implementers should look at the proposed IT direction of the organization as well as implementation costs.
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    1. Elayaperumal Ganapathy
      John,

      Its a very good blog comparing the ICI vc SAP Phone.

      I have a question. You have mentioned CA-ICI-CTI 6.2  as the version of ICI. But in the BCB administration screen, I see BCB/ICI version: 3.00.64507 .

      What is BCB/ICI and what is CA-ICI-CTI? are they the same or different? In my system, if I need to validate which version of CA-ICI-CTI is installed, how can i check that?

      Thanks in advance!!..

      Regards,
      Elaya

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  2. Elayaperumal Ganapathy
    John,

    Its a very good blog comparing the ICI vc SAP Phone.

    I have a question. You have mentioned CA-ICI-CTI 6.2 as the version of ICI. But in the BCB administration screen, I see BCB/ICI version: 3.00.64507 .

    What is BCB/ICI and what is CA-ICI-CTI? are they the same or different? In my system, if I need to validate which version of CA-ICI-CTI is installed, how can i check that?

    Thanks in advance!!..

    Regards,
    Elaya

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    1. John Burton Post author
      Hello Elaya,

      My understanding is that 6.2 refers to the SAP NetWeaver release. The idea is that ICI could potentially also be used in other NetWeaver components other than CRM Interaction Center.  Anyway, that’s where the number 6.2 came from. I have suggested to the responsible colleagues that they consider renaming it to e.g., 3.0, 3.05, etc., to be consistent with the ICI version. But this has not yet happened (obviously).

      Regards,
      John

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      1. Elayaperumal Ganapathy
        John,

        Thank you very much! It really helps understanding the background. 

        Just one more question. If I need to create a database record for each call within SAP,(To track what time the call came and who answered it, when it got terminated or transferred etc) is there a programming interface, provided along with ICI?

        Thanks,
        Elaya

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        1. John Burton Post author
          Hello Elaya,

          In SAP this is tracked in the Interaction Center via a documented called the Interaction Record that records the business information — who the customer was, the communicaiton channel, time, etc. It is not imported from the CTI system. If you want to know about importing data from the CTI system to SAP BI, please see this article: http://www.crmexpertonline.com/archive/Volume_03_(2007)/Issue_08_(October)/v3i8a3.cfm which requires a subscription to CRM Expert Online.

          Regards,
          John

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          1. CA -ICI-CTI
            John,

            Thank you very much for the response. (I was wondering I have to write code to do the call specific record and info. Thanks for pointing out that Interaction Record is automatically created with this useful information. )

            We are looking at integrating one instance of the centralized(CRM) IC Webclient and instances of CTI server (1 per callcenter)from multiple callcenters.

            Does ICI/BCB supports/connects to multiple CTI/Telephony adapters running in different locations?

            I could not find any documents related to multi site callcenter configuration related ICI or IC Web client. Could you please help?

            Regards,
            Elaya

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      2. Zvabvira Tawanda Shumba

        Hi John,

        May you help me on integrating IC Winclient and ICI. One of our clients is still using CRM 5.0 SP 15, now they want a multi Channel integration BCM 7.0 SP4 while they are upgrading to CRM 7. I followed the notes 1338389, 1001703 etc but im stuck on configuring the CMS. I did the winclient profile but

        Transaction CRMM_BCB_ADM

        Transaction CRMM_IC_MCM_CCADM

        Transaction CRMM_IC_MCM_CCLNK

        Transaction SM59

        Im not sure how i  can link the CMS profile to Winclient Profile.

        May you help ?

        I am Basis consultant may be that is why i struggle.

        Regards,

        Teeman (teemann70@gmail.com)

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    2. John Burton Post author
      Hello Elaya,

      My understanding is that 6.2 refers to the SAP NetWeaver release. The idea is that ICI could potentially also be used in other NetWeaver components other than CRM Interaction Center.  Anyway, that’s where the number 6.2 came from. I have suggested to the responsible colleagues that they consider renaming it to e.g., 3.0, 3.05, etc., to be consistent with the ICI version. But this has not yet happened (obviously).

      Regards,
      John

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  3. Alexandre Pereira
    Hello John,
    We’re still using the CRM 5.0 and CIC winclient.
    On CTI side we use a Siemens solution that have to use the ICI as interface.
    Your blog could help us to solve many communication issues.
    But now, we are trying to get the attached data sent from the IVR with a custom string, process it and make a BPSearch with this data.

    I’m planning to buy you book (Maximizing Your SAP CRM Interaction Center), but we need to know if this scenario is talked about and if it has explanations that can help us.

    Actualy we can see the attached data in CIC-CHA area of CIC0, but we can’t pick up it.

    Thank you in advanced,
    Alexandre

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    1. John Burton Post author
      Hello Alexandre,

      I don’t know that my book (or my repsonses here) will be of much help, as both are focused on the IC WebClient. But as mentioned in section 12.4.3 of the book, you can identify an account by extracting the account ID from the IVR/CAD. This can be configured in transaction CRMC_IC_BPROF in the fields under Contact-Attached Data Extraction. You do have to create your own XSLT file. See SAP Note 707104 for a sample.

      Regards,
      John

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    1. John Burton Post author

      Hello Rafik,

      Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Yes but… If you want to use multipe Communication Management Software (CMS) systems (such as on Genesys system and one Avaya system), then you will need multiple business roles. Each CMS profile can only be mapped to one CMS server, and each IC WebClient business role can only have one CMS profile. So basically, this means you will need two different agent groups (assigned to two different business roles) to handle the Avaya and Genesys calls. I hope this helps.

      Regards,

      John

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  4. Wenceslau Neto

    Hi Jonh.

    I need to implementation to use SAP CRM with the Avaya, I have the document Integrated communication Interface Interface Specification Version 3.07, and I developer the contact center for connection the Avaya CTI.

    But we have any problems. First, the wdsl that I have, is wrong and i cant found the files in the internet.

    Second, configurations URL on SAP, this is a problem because I developer for one URL each type, according the Specification.

    Please can you help me?

    Thanks

    Wenceslau Neto

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