Siebel Reveals OnDemand 9
Siebel Systems today announced the availability of Siebel OnDemand 9, the company's fourth release of its hosted CRM offering in 2005. Release 9 integrates with Lotus Notes, provides contact center capabilities, and branding options. (The news comes on the same day Oracle revealed it's buying the company for $5.85 billion; Oracle plans to invest heavily in Siebel's on-demand products.) "The center of this [release] is Lotus Notes integration. Now that Lotus Notes users have the same out-of-the-box functionality as their Outlook colleagues, Siebel OnDemand becomes a compelling option for nearly 90 million additional users," says Keith Raffel, group vice president of Siebel CRM On-Demand products. "People in big companies want this. It's simply irresistible."
Analysts agree Lotus integration is a smart move. "Lotus Notes is a very underserved market," says Sheryl Kingstone, CRM industry analyst for the Yankee Group. "It's not a deal-breaker against Salesforce, but it ensures current customers an improved integrated process. It's all about enterprise customers and meeting their needs."
Also significant is the addition of new phone and voicemail channels available through Contact OnDemand, Siebel's hosted contact center. It includes IVR integration with third-party systems and helps lower costs. "Call center infrastructure is one of the most expensive parts of CRM. Being able to bring down the cost of infrastructure gives more companies the ability to afford a strategic tool," says Denis Pombriant, founder and managing principal of Beagle Research Group. "We are in an era of organic growth in which companies' growth rates are directly tied to being able to cross-sell and upsell existing customers. That doesn't happen unless there is strong customer loyalty and often [that] is earned in providing superior customer service."
Aiming to please customers is the driving force behind Siebel's frequent release updates, Raffel says. "It's not easy to get a new release out each quarter. There's always something customers and prospects want, so it's better to do it sooner than later." The number of releases per year may become a metric that rivals, or even surpasses, market share, Pombriant says. "Market share as a metric of vendor capability is most important in an exponential growth area--what [author] Geoffrey Moore called the Tornado. But once a tornado is over, vendors find that taking care of the customer in myriad ways supersedes raw market share as a measure of their capabilities. Siebel is making a favorable comparison between itself and its competition with this metric and competing with Salesforce.com in its own territory. This is intentional, and should be echoed by other companies looking to compete at this level."
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