Siebel's OnDemand Upgrade Splash
On Tuesday Siebel Systems unveiled its latest version (release 6.0) of its Siebel CRM OnDemand product line. The spate of upgrades, what company executives are calling the largest to date, help Siebel target the SMB market with industry specific applications and additional functionality offered via the hosted application model. Some of the major enhancements include advances in sales effectiveness capabilities, such as prebuilt sales workflow and a seven-fold expansion of its analytic capabilities.
The announcement enables Siebel to take aim at the SMB market, which is already dominated by Salesforce.com. "Most of [Siebel's] wins, to date, have been in departments of their larger enterprise [customers], in a lot of cases businesses they were already in," says Laurie McCabe, vice president of SMB Insights and Business solutions at AMI Partners.
However, Siebel executives are expecting the industry specific applications in release 6.0 to entice new customers-- especially in the SMB market--because of their lower cost of entry. Providing industry specific versions of the CRM offering takes much of the integration costs out of the product, which Denis Pombriant, managing director of Beagle Research, maintains could cost more than $500,000 and take four to five months to complete. "Customization is expensive and risky. It involves a lot of up-front work, and it may not be possible if the application is not flexible enough to do that," Pombriant says.
The industy specific applications available in the latest upgrade include financial services and insurance, high tech, life sciences (medical), and automotive solutions.
All of the vertical solutions are based on the same infrastructure and capabilities offered in Siebel's on-premise and hosted solutions. One significant upgrade is the Sales Process Coach, a workflow feature that can be molded to the practices of a company's best sales reps. This workflow tool prompts sales people for the most pertinent customer information, and guides them through the next steps of the sales process. Other capabilities include mail merge from Microsoft Word, advanced territory management capabilities, and additional language support for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese.
The latest version also provides both historical and real-time analytical capabilities. Historical analytical capabilities enable managers to gain better insight on trends, based on historic performance. The real-time analytical capabilities enable sales managers to create pipeline velocity reports, which measure the amount of time deals are in one stage of the sales pipeline. This information can be sent to marketers, who can then create a campaign to help push leads faster through the sale pipeline.
"This isn't lipstick at the user interface level. This is deep integration, tailored to [customers'] specific needs," says Bruce Cleveland, senior vice president and general manager of OnDemand and SMB business at Siebel.
"That Siebel has gotten on the bandwagon with the OnDemand model--initially they were kicking and screaming-- shows they're very serious about this market," McCabe says. And while Salesforce.com has dominated the SMB market until now without Siebel, she adds, "the game is just beginning."
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