The soon-to-be acquired company unveils a new strategy and architecture as SAP baits a safe passage program hook for Siebel's customers.
Posted Oct 17, 2005
Siebel Systems kicked off its first user conference since Oracle announced its plans to acquire the once 800-pound CRM gorilla with a cluster of announcements. They include CEO George Shaheen's introduction of what he described as a new generation of CRM solutions. According to the company, Siebel Customer Adaptive Solutions are software and services offerings based on SOA platforms that address process and knowledge work requirements. The strategy and architecture will allow organizations to better understand and adapt to customer needs in response to quickly changing business requirements.
In a separate keynote Bruce Cleveland, senior vice president of products, drilled down into the specifics of Customer Adaptive Solutions. The set of services and offerings is based on four elements: outcome modeling, which allows organizations to define their desired business outcomes, model their customer-facing business processes, and capture customer profiles; informed action, which uses information from outcome modeling to help customer-facing staff take the right action in real-time; predictive insight, which uses Siebel's predictive analytics and business process-enabled applications that make recommendations based on factors including preprocessing; and rapid realignment, enabling organizations to "edit" their business, systems, and processes in real-time. "The next generation of CRM systems must address the challenges of both process work and knowledge work," Cleveland said. "They have to be able to fuse technology with business processes and the role of a given, specific user."
Competitors, not surprisingly, aren't impressed. "Siebel's next generation CRM is, in their words, a strategy," according to Greg Gianforte, founder and CEO of RightNow Technologies. "This sounds like putting lipstick on a pig. Customers don't need more hype, they need CRM vendors that actually deliver results and are committed to their success."
As part of its next-gen of CRM functionality Siebel unveiled new products, most notably Siebel Business Analytics 7.8 and Siebel Component Assembly, formerly known as Project Nexus. The former features functionality enhancements including expanded computational and analytical functions, added distributed query optimizations, improved multidimensional data source access with expanded MDX query generation and cube importing, new visualization and charting capabilities, and improved visual navigation and workflows. Siebel Component Assembly, is its SOA-based offering developed with the help of BEA Systems, IBM, and Microsoft that runs on .NET and J2EE application server platforms. The appeal of Siebel Component Assembly, according Denis Pombriant, managing principal of Beagle Research Group, is "in the ability to take major modules and customize them and put them together."
As Siebel continues with its product rollout, however, the proposed acquisition is still fresh in the minds of Siebel customers. In a play to lure uneasy Siebel customers, SAP today announced it is extending its Safe Passage program of SAP applications, technology, and support for Siebel shops. Shaheen, however, used much of his keynote to reaffirm Siebel's commitment to its customers. In reference to the planned acquisition, Shaheen said, "Clearly I believe that this merger will make both of our companies even stronger in the marketplace....It has to. The future of this combined entity is to present to our customers seamless continuity in everything we do to make it easier to do business with us, to make sure our solutions integrate, so that you--our customers and the users of this technology--can get more out of it faster, better, and cheaper." For his part, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison made his presence felt via a brief videotaped statement. Siebel CRM applications "will be the foundation for Oracle CRM going forward," he said. "We're very excited [about] what Siebel's done with SOA...that dovetails beautifully into Oracle's plans for Fusion."
Pombriant contends that the messaging and approach of the keynotes were on target. "The idea of putting the customer in the center...and making [the applications] flexible enough to be able to adapt the enterprise quickly to changes in the marketplace is exactly the right message for this time." He adds, though, that "of course, the big wild card is Larry Ellison. Everything that Siebel is talking about right now is subject to modification, I would think."
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