Tom Siebel: We'll Embrace .Net

While other customer relationship management (CRM) enterprise vendors are publicly denouncing Microsoft's .Net as an enterprise platform and have no plans to develop CRM products to support the architecture, Siebel Systems is playing it safe. SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft have all said they do not believe .Net will be a big enterprise play and as a result they will not support the platform. However, Siebel Chairman and Chief Executive Tom Siebel said this line of thinking does not make sense to him and Siebel will support both J2EE and .Net in future CRM releases. In an exclusive interview with CRM magazine at the DCI show in New York, Siebel said, "It is true that SAP and Oracle and PeopleSoft have publicly rejected .Net. I am baffled by that. It is clear that J2EE is the market, but how do you count out Microsoft on any enterprise initiative. And when was the last time Microsoft didn't emerge with leading market share," he said. Going against the other CRM enterprise vendors, Siebel said the company will offer CRM applications that support both .Net and J2EE in the future. "What you will see in the Siebel products is that the Siebel products will embrace the .Net applications servers and the J2EE servers. And we will work very closely with IBM. And we will work very closely with Microsoft," Siebel said. Siebel said that although the much-anticipated release of Siebel 7.5 in the next week will not support .Net, when the platform is fully available by Microsoft, Siebel will have an application ready that will work with it. Also at the DCI show, Siebel gave a keynote address in which he predicted more industry consolidation and those companies in the CRM space that are not cash flow positive will eventually disappear. "In the next two years, 80 percent of the companies here [at DCI] will not exist," he said with accustomed dramatic flair. Although the CRM industry is going through some growing pains right now, when IT spending returns to robust levels, so will CRM and ERM growth, Siebel said. "CRM and ERM are the top spending priorities in IT, globally," he said, adding that the move by corporations to Web services and business process computing will drive the market. Siebel's keynote came after a more upbeat presentation by Barton Goldenberg, president of CRM consulting firm, ISM Inc. In his speech, Goldenberg claims the CRM industry will grow at a 15 percent clip this year going against the reports of analyst firms including AMR and Aberdeen which expect the market to be slightly down or flat in 2002. Agreeing with Siebel, Goldenberg also said Web services will play a big role as companies strive for the real-time enterprise. The reason for his optimism is that CRM is the first step toward the real-time enterprise, according to Goldenberg. "Now is the time we have to come together to bring this industry forward as a group," Goldenberg said. "The only way to grow a new industry today is through the value proposition. The [real-time enterprise] will be the greatest accomplishment of the decade." Examples of corporations leveraging the benefits of the real-time enterprise include The Limited, Cisco Systems and General Electric, he said.
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