Siebel Gets the Contact Center Knack
Siebel Systems' unveiling of Siebel CRM OnDemand Release 7--not three months since the most recent installment of the company's on-demand solution, and its seventh on-demand release in about a year and a half--represents Siebel's latest bid to get a larger slice of the burgeoning hosted-market pie.
The hosted contact-center solution, which will be delivered as a prebuilt extension to CRM OnDemand, features a unified communications desktop that provides a view of customer interactions spanning voice, email, and Web touch points. It captures real-time interactions from multiple channels in one database, and provides CTI, IVR, ACD, and PBX capabilities. Denis Pombriant, managing director of Beagle Research, says the product's preintegration capabilities make it attractive to both small and large companies. "You can really make it an on-demand deployment as opposed to having some software and an API and a lot of partners that you might need to string together yourself--and that's a very important distinction for Siebel."
Analytics functionality across contact center and CRM interactions is also included, which Bruce Cleveland, Siebel senior vice president and general manager of OnDemand and SMB, tells CRM
magazine is obligatory for maximizing a solution's full potential. "It must go with the system." Omitting analytics, Cleveland says, is like "a nervous system without the brain."
Some of the analytics functionality includes drill down capabilities (interactive dashboards for insight into areas including pipeline growth, sales efficiency, and customer spending), and more than 250 prebuilt reports and analyses. Siebel's latest hosted foray incorporates the functionality it obtained by acquiring Ineto Services, a hosted contact center solutions provider. "Ineto brings a lot of experience in the on-demand call center space," Pombriant says. "What this combined solution provides is a lot of experience in on-demand call center, and a lot of experience in vertically oriented CRM."
The hosted space has gained traction among SMBs looking to rapidly implement contact center solutions and realize significant cost-savings by evading installation and maintenance expenses, with companies turning to ASPs like Salesforce.com to manage customer interactions. Cleveland, during a conference call this week, took a jab at Siebel's chief competitor in the hosted space, however, maintaining that Salesforce.com's approach is to give customers application programming interfaces to integrate third-party solutions, shifting the risk and cost to customers. "Full, comprehensive analytics integrated in real-time with the application suite--our strategy is to provide it all, out the door," Cleveland said.
Cleveland also contends that customers will be able to benefit from more personalized interactions with their own customers through the solution's built-in features. According to Mike Betzer, vice president of Contact OnDemand, and former CEO and founder of Ineto Services, "it's a million bucks and six months to even attempt to get something like this launched if you try to do it all on your own."
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