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SAP to offer business software on handhelds

The German business software giant unveils plans to offer its upcoming customer relationship management applications via a wide range of handheld devices.

Business software giant SAP unveiled plans to offer its upcoming customer relationship management applications via a wide range of handheld devices.

Announced at the company's Sapphire user conference yesterday in Singapore, SAP said its customer relationship management (CRM) applications will now be accessible using various handheld devices or portable Internet appliances, such as the Palm Pilot, handheld PCs, and smart phones.

In recent weeks, a growing number of front-office vendors, including Oracle and Siebel Systems, have announced plans to deliver their CRM applications on handhelds or other portable electronic devices. Front office software is intended to automate a company's sales, marketing, and customer call center needs.

Earlier this month, market leader Siebel said it will deliver its applications on several Microsoft CE handheld devices, while rival Oracle said its Internet-enabled CRM applications will run on various 3Com Palm devices.

Just last week, Pivotal, which also competes against SAP, Siebel, Oracle, and Clarify in the front-office space, made its first move into the wireless market by announcing plans to deliver its applications on handheld devices made by DataLan.

Peggy Menconi, an industry analyst at AMR Research, said this is just the next step in the front-office market and something of a necessity, especially for sales representatives who need to access this kind of information from the road.

Analysts have said the CRM software market is currently one of the industry's hottest--expected to reach $16.8 billion by 2003 from $3.7 billion this year, according to Boston-based AMR Research.

SAP said applications already being beta-tested on handheld devices include its field sales and service and Internet sales applications.

Supported operating systems for SAP's applications include Microsoft Windows CE and the Palm OS, the company said.

SAP is already working with Microsoft to connect mobile devices with its enterprise software, which includes software that automates a company's back office, or financial, human resources, and manufacturing needs. The two companies announced plans in late August to develop technology for connecting CE-based and other mobile devices to SAP's business applications using the Internet.

SAP's CRM software and services on handheld devices will generally be available in May 2000 and is part of its Internet strategy, mySAP.com, the company said.