• January 20, 2004
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Siebel Acquires a Hosted Call Center Company

Siebel Systems today inked a deal to acquire Ineto Services, a hosted contact-center solutions provider, in an effort to build out Siebel CRM OnDemand as part of its CRM for Everyone strategy. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, all 15 of Ineto's employees will move over to Siebel. The news comes just three months after Siebel acquired UpShot for its hosted CRM solution. Since then Siebel has received "tens of thousands" of inquiries for its hosted solutions, and has signed up "hundreds of customers within one month," says Ken Rudin, vice president and general manager of Siebel OnDemand. "The UpShot acquisition was a pretty big acquisition. The Ineto acquisition is incredibly strategic for us in that it's incredibly game-changing," Rudin says. "We're bringing the strength of Siebel to the [hosted call-center] market. Now we can build world-class call centers integrated with CRM. It's the first time Siebel has ever done anything like this. Other [Siebel] acquisitions have been to fortify markets we were already in, but this brings Siebel into a new market." The new market Rudin is referring to is the small and midsize business market--Siebel has traditionally competed in the midsize-to-large enterprise space. Previously, small divisions or remote locations within a company would not have the wherewithal to implement a large-scale, premise-based CRM solution, which left Siebel walking away from one third to one half of untouched CRM business opportunities inside a customer company, according to Rudin. Acquiring Ineto, however, enables Siebel to get 100 percent of the CRM business from existing clients and opens up more opportunities for Siebel in the small- and midsize-business market. A hosted call-center solution enables organizations to save on costly call-center hardware and software, such as automatic call distributors, computer telephony integration, and IVR systems. A company can spend $1 million on the call center technology and the implementation, configuration, and ongoing management of the technology, as well as a few more million on the integration with CRM and analytical systems, Rudin says. Ineto's hosted solution helps organizations stave off those costs by hosting the call center solution, in some cases acting as the telephone carrier and assigning companies a toll-free telephone number or routing calls from existing toll-free numbers to agents. Customers can use VoIP or traditional phone lines. Ineto has a bank of toll-free numbers that customers can choose from, or customers can keep their existing toll-free numbers and redirect them through Ineto's data center. Ineto can help its clients with various customization efforts, such as determining which message is played depending on the incoming caller's identity, which person to route the call to, and how long to hold a call in queue. Rudin does not expect existing licensed customers to abandon their existing on-premise environments for the hosted model: "If I look at what happened with Siebel OnDemand hosted space, then the answer is, it will affect things very little. We just haven't seen any cannibalism of on-premise solutions because of OnDemand solutions. This will open up new markets for Siebel."
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