Siebel's SMB Push: An Updated On-Premise Solution

Siebel Systems has announced the availability of Siebel CRM Professional Edition 7.8, the fourth release of its on-premise solution in the past two years. According to company officials, this newest version helps improve user adoption through seamless integration with familiar desktop and Web applications like Microsoft Exchange and Outlook, and provides cost-effective access to Siebel's hosted contact center. Rob Reid, Siebel's group vice president, SMB, says, "We're finding SMBs want to get their hands around the process and interactions with customers. We think the SMB market is less than 20 percent penetrated and we have an opportunity for this to be a real growth machine for the company." Siebel CRM Professional Edition 7.8 also integrates with Microsoft SharePoint so users can develop personalized microsites that include key sales and service information and can be used to improve employee productivity through more effective project management and team collaboration. "[It] is designed for rapid end-user adoption and can be deployed by SMBs that face budgetary and resource constraints," Reid says. "However, [it] also provides the deeper functionality that midsize businesses need to address more sophisticated sales, service, and marketing challenges." "The release of Siebel CRM Professional Edition 7.8...expands the frontiers of what is possible for an SMB-specific CRM solution to deliver and does so in a manner that is affordable and appropriate for our IT capabilities," Mark Engebretson, director of IT applications at Plumtree Software, said in a prepared statement. "We are particularly excited about the new Siebel integration to Microsoft Outlook, as it will allow us to increase the speed with which our employees can access important customer data and improve the quality of their decisions and interactions with customers." Sheryl Kingstone, CRM industry analyst for the Yankee Group, says it is "absolutely imperative that Siebel continues to execute, and show product momentum and customer success" now, as customers and the market are closely watching the company's acquisition by Oracle. Reid could not comment on Professional Edition 7.8's integration with Oracle, as the purchase of Siebel is not expected to close until 2006. Until that time, according to Reid, Siebel must continue to do business as usual. Typically, larger, midsize companies choose Siebel's on-premise solution; smaller companies go with on-demand. The latest release in that area, OnDemand 9, came last month, which Kingstone notes as significant, especially with more companies like Microsoft and Sage Software coming out with choices for users. "The on-demand market is a critical force for the future of the applications industry. The market is getting more and more competitive. Siebel offers strong functionality for their larger customers that want to have a hybrid model. They need to continue to enhance the customization and integration functionality along with moving to a single user interface for on-demand and premised applications." Reid is not worried about the competition, noting Siebel's 3.4 million users and industry expertise. "Everyone else is trying to figure out what we're doing and trying to copy us. They don't have the understanding of the issues or the infrastructure to satisfy these requirements. There are people who are trying to provide choice, but there are very few that have done it effectively. What you do in on-demand verses on-premise [involves] totally different business requirements. They will make mistakes that will allow us to continue moving forward verses the competition." Related articles: Siebel Reveals OnDemand 9
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