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New Siebel CEO kicks off company's next chapter

J. Michael Lawrie promised in his keynote at Siebel User Week to work closely with customers as the company makes its products available in components.

LOS ANGELES -- New Siebel Systems Inc. CEO J. Michael Lawrie Monday opened Siebel User Week with a declaration that CRM is no longer about developing the best software, but is a strategy that delivers business outcomes.


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Lawrie, making his first public appearance since taking over as CEO in May, said developing the best software will remain a priority for the San Mateo, Calif., company, but not its only concern.

"CRM is not a product. CRM is not an event. CRM is a strategy, a business strategy to help bring businesses closer to their customers," said Lawrie, adding that as a former IBM executive who oversaw Big Blue's Siebel implementation, he learned what not to do.

Lawrie also talked about the importance of user adoption, executive sponsorship, data quality and CRM as a business process -- things that have been talked about in the industry for years.

"All the things I heard this morning I should have heard three or four years ago," said Liz Roche, vice president of technology and research services at Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group. "If I put [former CEO] Tom Siebel's face on Mike Lawrie, I can just hear him saying, 'we're doubling down on CRM,' which is what they were talking about last year."

All the things I heard this morning I should have heard three or four years ago.
 Liz Roche
Vice presidentMeta Group

Lawrie promised a greater industry-specific product strategy, and that Siebel would enter the custom-built application market -- currently 75% of the worldwide applications market. The componentization and separation of business logic from applications allows Siebel to get into custom-built applications, he said.

To provide the custom applications customers need, Siebel will offer its products as components, something it already does with its analytics and the Universal Application Network product, he said. Lawrie promised, however, that Siebel will not become a services company and compete with partners like IBM Global Services, but rather supply its partners with the technology they need. Pricing for the new components was not announced.

Whether Siebel can work with an organization to build what it needs, met with different reactions.

"They already are," said Brent Dirks, sales analyst with Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories and an attendee at the conference. "Pretty much what he was saying struck a chord with me as far as CRM."

Siebel has steadily improved its understanding of the pharmaceutical industry during the past five years, and so far Siebel has been a good addition to the company, he said.

However, having Siebel come in and custom build an application was not an idea for everyone.

"Not from my company's perspective," said Jeffrey Jones, IT AD-institutional CRM/Horizon, with New York-based MetLife Inc. "We use a lot of internal resources and subcontract with some offshore resources. I don't know how cost effective it would be to work with Siebel."

Lawrie predicted growth in the market for front-office applications, a fact bolstered by Siebel's pre-earnings announcement. Total revenues for the third quarter are expected to be approximately $315 million to $317 million above forecasts of $306 million. License revenues are expected to come in at $104 million to $105 million, ahead of forecasts of $96 million.

As part of the industry-specific focus, Lawrie said Siebel will be recruiting additions to the leadership team to help with specific vertical pushes.

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