LOS ANGELES -- Siebel Systems Inc. executives joined the chorus of CRM voices Tuesday promising to help customers refine business processes while continuing to develop innovative technology.
In laying out the company's product road map yesterday at Siebel User Week, CEO Mike Lawrie said Siebel'ssecond chapter will include a heavy focus on helping customers find business success.
Eileen McPartland, senior vice president of global services, introduced Siebel's new Customer Blueprint Program. A customizable, Web-based tool with resources such as white papers and sample project plans, the program will capitalize on Siebel's experience in the front office, McPartland said. Siebel currently offers resources such as customer workshops and other programs that offer assistance.
"These are some of our best-kept secrets," McPartland said, acknowledging customer difficulties implementing CRM. "We haven't always been the best resource people for you. We believe with the blueprint we can help you build the best customer experience."
The blueprint will provide insight into traditional areas of CRM success like end-user adoption, executive sponsorship and accurate data. It will be created with input from partners and customers who will validate the program, along with industry analysts in the fourth quarter of this year, McPartland said. A toolkit for testers will be available in 2005.
Siebel's technology will not be forgotten, though.
"Make no mistake, Chapter 2 is about driving business outcomes, but it's also about building the world's best CRM software," said David Schmaier, executive vice president at Siebel.
Schmaier pledged that Siebel would invest in Siebel 7 through the rest of the decade. An upgrade to 7.8 will be announced in the spring of next year, and Siebel is currently in the design stage for 7.9, he said.
Siebel 7.8 will focus on integrated order management, further vertical depth and cross-vertical enhancements, such as tools to allow sales to collaborate with marketing, he added.
Plans to enhance the order management component were good news for Roger Morrell, vice president of information technology for El Segundo, Calif.-based Infonet Services Corp., which is running Siebel Order Management 7.5.3. Morrell said he tries to conduct four major software upgrades a year and is holding off until 7.8 before he upgrades with Siebel. With a long and complicated order process, Infonet faces problems going back through its sales process to correct an order. Infonet, which supplies worldwide data networks, has problems with incorrect entries whether done by the sales force or a mistake by the customer. Siebel has reacted quickly to its own problems, Morrell noted.
"I think Siebel, when they brought out 7, they got a very big shock," Morrell said. "If they hadn't done something fast, it would have affected their reputation. Now they're one of my better vendors."
Additionally, Siebel will continue to support Web services as it has for 7.5 and 7.7, Schmaier said.
"It's only a road map, which is a future-oriented thing, but I have no doubt they'll deliver," said Denis Pombriant, managing principal with Stoneham, Mass.-based Beagle Research Group. "From what I've seen in my research, only half the organizations that implement do enough planning. Having a vendor step up to take responsibility is an important step forward. It's part of the natural evolution of a market."