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Author's profile photo Jon Reed

State of SAP CRM – SAP Mentor Podcast

For the sixth edition of the ERP Lounge podcast series, I had the pleasure of sitting down for a bigtime SAP CRM consulting and skills discussion with SAP Mentors Stephen Johannes and Vijay Vijayasankar.

I invited Stephen and Vijay on this program due to their informed and opinionated views, and they didn’t disappoint. Basically, these guys love to talk CRM – or any key SAP issue for that matter! Also: if you want more context for this podcast, you should also check out the “Future of CRM” webinar replay we refer to during this podcast, which was part of the SAP Mentor Monday webinar series.

Here’s the basic rundown. During the 65 minute podcast, we follow this flow:

1. Reader questions – on the CRM-Solution Manager connection, and whether SD or CRM is a better career path.
2. A market discussion on the state of CRM in an on demand world and how SAP can improve its CRM strategy.
3. The keys to success as an SAP CRM professional

Since Vijay and Stephen plan to do more on SAP CRM going forward, we wanted to share this podcast on SCN, and hopefully get your feedback for future topics. Even in an hourlong taping, there was plenty we didn’t cover.

If you want to see more about what we covered (as well as a podcast timeline), then keep on scrolling down. (If for any reason the player doesn’t work, you can download the podcast using the “download media” link on the right hand side of the page).

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if for some reason it’s not playing in its entirety for you, check out the version on in the meantime.)

Podcast Highlights

I. (0:00) Opening Banter   

Intros: Stephen works for Bunge North America, a large agricultural company. He supports the CRM 2007 implementation. They have a “lean and mean” model – Stephen is the full dedicated resource on the solution. Stephen has been working with SAP CRM since 2001 and is a CRM topic moderator on SCN. 

Vijay is a Senior Manager with IBM’s SAP practice, and his focus has included CRM and BI. Vijay maintains a popular blog on SCN and is frequently chiming in on Jon’s blog with challenging questions as he pushes the conversation.

(4:15) SAP Mentor Highlights: in lieu of explaining the SAP Mentor Initiative, Jon asks Vijay and Stephen to share a highlight of their experiences as SAP Mentors so far.

II. (10:15) Ice Breaker – Reader Questions and Comments

Each guy got a crack at a question. Question for Stephen that Jon received by direct message on his Twitter feed: You guys were talking about the CRM and Solution Manager connection, and I didn’t really understand – can you explain?  Question for Vijay – one of Jon’s most popular reader career questions ever: If you had to choose a career in the SD module or in CRM, what would you choose and why?

III. (14:00) Market Banter – Examinging the Overall CRM Market

In order to establish the context for our feature topic on SAP CRM skills, I wanted to set the stage with broader CRM trends that will impact everyone in the field: “What is ‘Social CRM’ and what does the term even mean?”

Stephen: recommends the industry standard book CRM at the Speed of Light, 4th Edition, by Paul Greenberg. There is still confusion on how vendors will apply this trend, but Greenberg defines social crm as (paraphase) “the company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation.” Social CRM is NOT just putting a Twitter feed out or a Facebook page or some user forms – it’s about a philosophy of dealing with this shift in process and customer relationships. This is a common pitfall in CRM: getting caught up in CRM tools over improving processes.

The next question went to Vijay:  “What do you make of the huge buzz around – are on demand solutions taking the buzz away from on premise CRM?”

Sam Bayer of b2b2dot0 ran a survey on what SAP CRM is really being used for: “The bottom line is that most people are using SAP CRM for Service Management purposes, followed by the classic sales force automation requirements for lead and opportunity management, Not many people are using the Campaign Management functionality, and the least used functionality is Order Management.”

IV. (26:40) Into the Lounge, Feature Topic: The Keys to Success as an SAP CRM Consultant

In the ERP Lounge feature segment, Jon and the guys talk about:

“What Makes a Successful SAP CRM Consultant?”

Jon asks Vijay about which consultants his customers like, and which ones they choke on and kick to the curb?

(35:30) Vijay and Stephen provide suggestions for how SAP Education can help with the process of helping SAP CRM professionals succeed.

(39:15) Jon’s monologue: So what is the best technical/functional skills mix for the SAP professional?

So how many functional areas can an SAP CRM person master?  

(44:37) Vijay: at best, two. SAP CRM is historically organized around sales, service and marketing, and I usually only see consultants who are skilled in a couple of these areas. It’s not just about configuration, it’s about process knowledge and industry exposure too. But in SAP CRM, it’s a lot easier, using the framework-based approach, to move into other functional areas of SAP. 

Vijay’s last stand (prior to his hard stop appointment at the top of the hour):

(48:21) What is the CRM-BI connection? 

Vijay’s last words of advice (before we bid him farewell from the podcast taping): SAP CRM is a great place to be. If you can be a techno-functional “BPX” type of person, understanding both sides well, and if you have a broad CRM understanding beyond SAP to make a grand solution including complementary products, you’ll be on the right track.

(51:39) Stephen’s last stand: with Vijay gone, Stephen responds to Vijay’s comments on CRM BI and how reporting can be overlooked on projects. Analtyics can’t be an afterthought! Stephen also explains why Master Data Management (MDM) is such an issue in CRM with duplicate records and integration. 

(56:20) Stephen goes off on SAP version number hiring practices in SAP CRM. Jon’s soapbox: “You’re hiring inferior talent when you use version requirements as an absolute requirement.”

(59:31) Stephen’s final SAP CRM skills suggestions:  You need to learn the new UI framework. If you’re an “old dog” CRM consultant and haven’t got experience in the UI framework of CRM 2007 or CRM 7.0, your future on projects is limited.

V. (1:06) SAP Skills Hot and Not – Jon and Stephen riff on Jon’s recent poll on JonERP visitors preference of social networking sites for SAP networking.

One final note: If you want to track future ERP Lounge podcasts, there are a couple options:
1. get the RSS feed for The JonERP Master Blog and Podcast Feed. 2. The ERP Lounge podcasts are also included in the JonERP iTunes podcast feed.

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      Author's profile photo Stephen Johannes
      Stephen Johannes
      Discussion for State of CRM podcast

      The above thread is available for comments.  Either way, we love to hear your feedback. 

      Thank you,