Siebel Crowns Itself Analytics Leader

Assembling a suite of analytics tools through internal development and the acquisition of vendors like Enquire has been good business for Siebel, and its executives don't mind talking about it. In fact, Siebel just crowned itself the market-share leader in customer-oriented analytics software, claiming more than $157 million in 2002 revenues for that product line. Although Siebel does not typically specify the divisions of its revenue, Larry Barbetta, vice president and general manager of Siebel Analytics, says that the company was so taken with the numbers that publishing them was important. "Our revenues are big; our revenues are up materially," he says. Siebel's success in selling its Analytics 7 product has hinged on its ability to convince a range of business users that they can do more than accept the reports designed from on high. "What this indicates, I think, is that the position Siebel is dedicated to is emblematic of a business culture that's receptive to analytics, provided that it is packaged in a way that allows line-of-business champions to grasp the value," says Bob Moran, a vice president at research firm Aberdeen Group. Asked to explain its proclamation, Siebel says it worked from press releases and 2002 earnings reports from competitors, filling in the blanks with published 2001 data and customer-analytics industry-growth projections from IDC. "We waited until everyone had in their end-of-year results, and all the public companies that are material in the public space have reported," Barbetta says. IDC analyst Robert Blumstein notes, however, that formal 10-K reports will not be available until March, and favors a more deliberate approach to declaring leadership. "We will eventually get to pulling out comparatives, and we will see what happens" after the formal year-end SEC filings become available, he says. Aberdeen's Moran declined to comment on the validity of Siebel's comparisons, but says, "I am not endorsing [Siebel's] claim to [being] number one, two, or three. It's completely irrelevant to me. In the software industry leadership wars are won, lost, and refought every single day." Rival analytics vendor SAS, which sat atop the Siebel-referenced leaderboard for 2001, believes that there is less to Siebel's claims than meets the eye, because the depth of functionality is not the same from vendor to vendor in general, or to SAS and Siebel in particular. "They're using analytics synonymously with query-and-reporting
, which is important, but is looking at data from the past," says Nelle Schantz, global strategist and program director for CRM at SAS. Barbetta acknowledges that Siebel Analytics "out of the box tends to be more descriptive, rather than predictive," and notes that his software interfaces with predictive modeling packages like SAS to enable more elaborate future-performance analysis. In general Siebel and its competitors seem bent on generating conversation and controversy based on its 2002 results. Just a few weeks ago SAP issued an earnings statement that suggests that SAP's CRM license revenues were higher in Q4 2002 than Siebel's, based on Siebel's announced license revenue and its own internal accounting for CRM--related license sales. The timing of Siebel's analytics announcement may not be mere coincidence, but rather, a way for Siebel to reassert leadership on its own terms, and with numbers it can draw comfort from. "There is a point that Siebel makes that I like, and that's to make it easy to use at the business user's perspective," Schantz says. "But they're dumbing down the definition of analytics."
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