Siebel Touts CRM For Everyone

Siebel Systems used its annual user-week conference to spotlight its recently announced on-demand hosted-CRM application and emphasize the company's efforts on lowering the total cost of ownership for its CRM products. The next decade, according to chairman and CEO Tom Siebel, will continue to focus on TCO, but be guided by several important business trends including indirect channels, offshore outsourcing, and emerging markets. During his keynote Siebel emphasized the company's new mantra: "CRM for Everyone." Part of delivering all that, according to Siebel, is being flexible and offering products that support a variety of standards and open source protocols including J2EE, .NET, and Web services. Siebel is also continuing to flesh out its Universal Access Network adaptor, which offers hundreds of integration options for business processes. This means delivering CRM applications to enterprises, as well as to medium-size businesses in both hosted and traditional client/server flavors to insure CRM products for companies of any size, in any industry. Byron Vielehr, CTO at Merrill Lynch's Global Private Client Group, likes the idea of flexibility. "One size fits none," he says. Siebel's reentry last week into the hosted space with Siebel On Demand comes after much public denouncement of rival Salesforce.com's hosted approach to delivering CRM. Siebel stopped its hosted initiative, sales.com, two years ago. "We had sales.com in 1998, but I think we were ahead of the market," Siebel says, noting that the hosted CRM market is expected to top more than $1 billion by 2004. "Enterprise software must embrace the speed of change in business into its DNA. In this new era of CRM, we see hybrid solutions to meet the requirements of distributed business models." Siebel says the company's top focus continues to be reducing TCO and increasing ROI. A year ago Siebel promised customers that TCO would be reduced by 50 percent. The company has yet to hit those targets, but Siebel says it are getting really close. Siebel Systems is slated to deliver its next major upgrade (Siebel 7.7) in the spring of 2004. However, a complete overhaul of Siebel's CRM system will not happen for years. Siebel also took time to assure attendees that Siebel 7 will be around for long time--"maybe until the end of the decade," he said. "We see this as a product architecture with legs." That was good news for Karin Patir, a CRM specialist for Dassualt Falcon Jet Corp. "We are still using Siebel 99, but the company has already said it will not support the product anymore, so we have to migrate to Siebel 7. Knowing that it will be around for several more years makes it easier to stick with Siebel." At the conference competitor Salesforce.com was employing some guerilla marketing tactics to get the attention of Siebel users. Salesforce.com had two individuals standing across the street from the gargantuan convention center holding a four-foot banner that read, "Salesforce.com. Success. Not Siebel." In addition, a handful of people clad in Salesforce.com T-shirts were picketing in front of the convention center and offering attendees cups of coffee. "I'm not sure what they were trying to accomplish," one analyst, who asked not to be named, said. "I overheard a Fortune 1000 customer say, 'Wow. They must be getting really desperate.' I'm not sure it was a desperate move on Salesforce.com's part, but it certainly didn't convey the image that I think Salesforce.com is trying to project as a serious player against Siebel." But even market leader Siebel is not above taking a shot at rivals. During his keynote Siebel made reference to zero return on investment and PeopleSoft. He immediately acknowledged it was "a cheap shot" and apologized.
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