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Siebel Feeds the Wireless Beast
Analyst: Pavement-pounding salespeople remain skeptical about CRM
Posted May 8, 2002
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Siebel Systems Inc. is quietly ramping up its wireless initiatives as proven by its recent validation of a wireless solution from Xora Inc. for its Siebel eBusiness applications versions 6 and 7. Using the Xora platform, Siebel eBusiness applications users can access contacts, accounts, opportunities, call reports, activity reports, and other customer relationship information. Access to this data will be provided via any mobile device. "We're very pleased about the validation of the Xora platform," says Mike Straub, technical director of Alliances for Siebel Systems. "Xora's device-independent solution will enable joint customers to use existing IT resources to deploy wireless projects on devices as diverse as RIM Pagers, PDA's, and mobile phones, as well as the traditional desktop Web." While only one customer is expected to go live with the wireless solution for sales professionals on June 8th, Ananth Rani, vice president of products and services and one of the co-founders of Xora, expects to have 40 customers accessing Seibel eBusiness applications wirelessly by the end of the year. The cost for the wireless solution can range from $125,000 to $500,000, depending on the number of users. "This wireless partnership is only one of several for Siebel," says Ken Dulaney, vice president of mobile computing at Gartner Group. "It's difficult to pick one infrastructure company when it comes to wireless. It'd be elegant if we had a Microsoft of middleware, but we don't. So choice usually wins." However, until more sales representatives warm up to CRM, mobile CRM solutions may not dazzle outbound sales professionals, according to Dulaney. "Most CRM solutions are data collection apps and they fail to influence the sales representative in any way. The application choices that have been made by the people who buy deliver what the buyers wanted, but they are not the people affected by the systems, which are the sales reps," Dulaney says. When sales representatives are asked if they use a CRM solution, Dulaney says a common response is 'Yeah. We feed the beast.'
"Great salesmanship is something you can do with or without computers. The CRM systems today don't help sales representatives analyze their business. Taking people out to lunch still works. Super Bowl tickets still work. Being personable and knowing your product line always works," says Dulaney.
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