Siebel Pumps Up Partnerships and Its Midmarket Presence
It was a busy week for Siebel Systems as the CRM giant strengthened its partnerships with two industry heavyweights and made moves to secure some ground in the midmarket.
On Monday the company announced that IBM will promote Siebel's recently released hosted CRM solution to its business partners. On Tuesday Siebel and Microsoft announced the availability of the first product as a result of a joint partnership deal around Siebel's Universal Access Network, announced in the fall of 2002. Siebel also this week launched Siebel CRM Professional Edition, a revamped version of its Midmarket Edition.
Building on its $3 billion strategic alliance with IBM, which has already resulted in 1,100 joint engagements, the two companies announced at IBM PartnerWorld a joint venture to codevelop, host, market, and sell Siebel CRM OnDemand to IBM Business Partners. It is the only solution IBM is promoting to its partners, according to company officials.
Under the terms of the agreement Siebel and IBM will provide customized training packages, services offerings, and promotional pricing to IBM Business Partners that use Siebel CRM OnDemand for sales, marketing, and customer service. As part of this initiative IBM is building automated interfaces with Siebel CRM OnDemand to facilitate deal and pipeline coordination with IBM Business Partners.
Siebel CRM OnDemand was jointly developed by IBM and Siebel Systems, and was designed for the midmarket. IBM Business Partners that purchase Siebel CRM OnDemand by March 31 will receive the first 90 days of usage free, as well as free gold-level support and 24x7 helpdesk access. Businesses can improve collaboration with IBM Using these services, such as streamlined business processes, real-time exchange of lead and deal information with IBM, and accelerated sales cycle, according to the company.
IBM is not Siebel's only powerhouse partner. More than a year ago Microsoft and Siebel joined forces to tackle the issue of integration. The companies agreed to joint development and marketing around Siebel's Universal Application Network. Part of that agreement involved engineers from both companies (approximately 30) working together to deliver prebuilt applications that use industry specific processes, common objects, and run on industry leading integration servers, including Microsoft's BizTalk Server.
The first result of that effort is that Siebel Business Integration Applications for the communications, media, and energy industries are now available for the latest version of Microsoft's integration server. Microsoft on Tuesday released Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004.
These prebuilt solutions give customers the ability to automate their core business processes, and enable best-practice business processes for Customer Life Cycle Management, Billing Management, Customer Order Management, and Product Management.
Over the coming months Siebel plans to introduce a variety of other vertical universal application network packages, according to Nimish Mehta, group vice president, Universal Application Network. Mehta says the application substantially reduces the time, cost, and risk associated with application integration: "This has long been the domain of custom integration."
He explains that processes like end-to-end order management are not typically available unless a corporation spends a hefty sum to integrate the necessary systems. Even then the business processes may be slow, inefficient, and error-prone, yield high operating costs and decreased customer satisfaction, according to Mehta.
Mehta expects that BizTalk customers will be interested in the product, but that the bulk of interest will come from Siebel's installed base, as well as new customers "that don't want to rip and replace." He adds that packaged integration is also something that is popular in the midmarket, a space that Siebel is aggressively moving into.
Siebel this week made moves to grab more of that lucrative market segment. The company released CRM Professional Edition, which features multichannel sales, service, and marketing applications developed for small and midsize companies. The new offering is the latest version of Siebel MidMarket Edition application, and is tailored for specific industries like financial services, communications, and life sciences. Siebel CRM Professional Edition supports the industry- and company-specific processes for sales, service, marketing, and call centers.
With the purchase of basic Siebel CRM Professional Edition applications, customers can then also add another set of modules, ranging from email marketing to support for wireless access and handheld applications, at no additional cost.
The product will be available to new users and to existing Siebel MidMarket Edition customers, and can be purchased as a single perpetual license installment for $995 per two users.