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SAP debuts Web customer tools, eyes Salesforce

Posted by iMark - 2006-02-05

Business software maker SAP AG on Thursday introduced a Web-based version of its market-leading customer relationship software that aims to shore up its position over rivals Oracle Corp. and Salesforce.com Inc.
The German company's new subscription service targets large- and medium-sized businesses in the market for customer relationship management (CRM) software, which helps office workers track sales leads and manage customer relationships.

SAP said its first release would help customers manage their customers, contacts and sales pipelines and be followed by additional CRM offerings in 2006, including marketing and service products.

The Web-based application is priced as a monthly service starting at $75, and SAP said it has extended a partnership with IBM to provide hosting services for the product.

SAP's service is a shot across the bow at Salesforce.com, which has seen dramatic growth as more companies turn to Web-based software that for many businesses is easier to maintain and more effective because it can be accessed from anywhere.

It also raises the stakes with Oracle, which this week closed its takeover deal with Siebel Systems as a way to gain a stronger foothold in the CRM market, which is growing faster than the overall business software market.

In the past two years, Oracle has spent some $19 billion on acquisitions to better challenge SAP in the applications business. SAP has looked to boost growth by winning new business rather than buying up its rivals.

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