AMR Breaks Down Siebel 7

Siebel 7 might be great for companies looking for industry-specific solutions, partner-relationship management software or analytics functionality; but those with a lot of mobile users or who are seeking high-volume call center deployments should wait. These and other recommendations about CRM giant Siebel Systems' flagship Siebel 7 software suite were released this week by AMR Research. Siebel released Siebel 7 last year, a major upgrade to a Web-based architecture. The suite touts a bevy of new features, including an employee relationship management module for goal setting; compensation planning; training; collaboration; time and expense reporting; and other functions. There's also a new analytics server and enhanced sales forecasting capabilities. And the PRM module received access management and profiling features. Siebel 7 also comes in 20 flavors tailored to the unique CRM needs of industries such as financial services, retail, life sciences and the public sector. AMR talked to more than 70 Siebel users, as well as Siebel consultants, and found no major code quality problems, although some first movers reported performance, scalability and reliability challenges. These included system crashes, slower screen paints and increased bandwidth traffic. Also, many actions took longer -- that is, required more mouse clicks -- because functionality was spread out in Siebel 7. Siebel 7 functionality, though, falls short when it comes to field service and call center capabilities, says AMR. Specifically, Siebel Handheld 7 for Windows-Powered Devices does not support iPaqs of Pocket PCs, so companies such as those in the energy vertical that use Siebel in a mobile environment are more likely to wait for version 7.5. And Siebel 7's Web-based call center product is still unproven in a high-volume call center environment, meaning companies such as those in the telecommunications sector may also take a wait-and-see approach. The biggest hurdle may be the upgrade to Siebel 7 itself: The process is wrought with challenges and cost. AMR says users are budgeting 20 to 30 percent of their initial costs and up to three months, depending on the complexity of the deployment. Expect spending between one-half and one-full day of training per user -- a considerable amount due to the greater functionality afforded by Siebel 7. While Siebel claims migration tools enable a whopping 95 percent automatic upgrade, AMR says companies are reporting that only 55 to 75 percent of the system is being migrated in the first pass. Moreover, most client-side customization for Siebel 6 is lost in the upgrade to Siebel 7, although Siebel 7's increased functionality offsets this problem. To this end, Siebel continues to court the channel to help with implementation. Its key partner is Accenture, which has 1,000 Siebel 7 consultants pounding the pavement and touts 11 Siebel 7 projects. Other major partners include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Consulting and KPMG Consulting. Given the hit-and-miss functionality and upgrade challenges, AMR predicts the majority of early users will be new customers -- not upgraders. As references become available, about 35 to 40 percent of Siebel 6 users will begin the upgrade process this year.
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