I talked recently with the SAP CRM management team and partnering with SAP appears to becoming less onerous for vendors of customer-facing complementary software products. Many of these interaction-centric products in areas such as email management, knowledge management, and communication channel management had been forced into a go-it-alone strategy when looking to integrate with SAP CRM and Customer Service installations due to complex partnering rules and high fees. In a recent briefing, SAP appears to have loosened the reins a bit – structuring mutually beneficial agreements with a number of companies (announcements to follow) outside of their traditional partner channels. This bodes well for all three stakeholders in such a relationship: SAP, who broadens the capabilities of its product with well-integrated point solutions; independent software vendors, who can now work with SAP to tighten integrations; and users, who will benefit from co-marketed, tested solutions. As an indication that this is not just trading logos on PowerPoint decks, in at least one case, most of the work to integrate the products is taking place by SAP within the SAP product. Expect more news about the specifics of this new strategy in next few weeks. This is a vast change from prior policies which offered potential “partners” two choices – take it or leave it.
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