SAPphone versus ICI (Integrated Communication Interface)
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XML/SOAP based and that ICI supports real-time chat, e-mail, and telephony; ICI proponents dismiss SAPphone as outdated and one dimensional (telephony only).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.
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.
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
- Enter “Telephony”, “Chat”, “E-mail” or “Sapphone” as the search criteria.
- Select the contact from the results list.