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Siebel coins new CRM mantra

As it kicks off User Week, Siebel takes the wraps off a new CRM strategy, demos Siebel 7.7 and previews a few more upcoming releases.

SAN DIEGO -- In front of thousands of customers and partners at Siebel User Week, CEO Tom Siebel announced Tuesday a new strategy for the CRM market leader.

Dubbing the new approach "CRM for Everyone," Siebel outlined a mix-and-match approach allowing customers to use functions they need and leave out those they don't, counteracting the San Mateo, Calif., company's reputation for implementations that are too complex, too long and don't deliver ROI.

Central to that pitch is Siebel CRM OnDemand, a hosted application announced last week in partnership with IBM. In fact, the entire strategy of utilizing computing power on an as-needed basis sounds awfully similar to IBM's e-business on-demand push.

Siebel backtracked on his earlier criticisms of the hosted model while touting CRM OnDemand -- even as people wearing T-shirts from hosting competitor offered free coffee outside the conference. He said Siebel had gotten into the market too early with its failed, a hosted offering the company introduced in 1999 that was dropped two years later. The time may be right for CRM OnDemand, according to analysts.

"Last year, [Siebel's] message was, 'We're keeping it simple,' and then they got slammed by competitors that could deliver on that promise," said Sheryl Kingstone, CRM project manager at Yankee Group in Boston. "Now [Siebel] can say, 'Here it is.'"

According to Siebel, customers will be able to take pieces of Siebel offerings and blend them into the applications that they need. As the marketplace has changed with companies having less money and greater needs, so too have companies' demands on their CRM, Siebel said.

"We're doubling down on CRM," Siebel said. "We're allowing you to mix and match your needs as you require. It's clear to us that enterprise software must embrace this and change its DNA."

With the mix-and-match approach, Siebel promised to lower total cost of ownership (TCO). Pricing and integration under the flexible format were not announced.

"The key is bi-directional communication," Kingstone said. "If the applications aren't baked in and working together, then the whole TCO model is thrown out."

Showcasing the technology

Siebel also previewed its upcoming release, Siebel 7.7, which adds hundreds of new industry-specific capabilities, usability enhancements, TCO improvements, two-way store-and-forward wireless reports and capabilities such as a new financial services customer relationship console for branch banking. Siebel 7.7 is due out in 2004.

The company has also added to its analytics offerings with an enhanced suite featuring new data mining capabilities; the suite is due out later this year.

Siebel Business Integration Applications for Universal Application Network (UAN) 3.0, also unveiled Tuesday, includes new integration processes in sales management, service management and employee relationship management. The packaged integration applications now provide more than 20 industry-specific integration processes. The integration applications now support BEA, SeeBeyond, Tibco and WebMethods integration servers. In the fourth quarter, Siebel will add support for J2EE-based IBM WebShpere and .NET-based Microsoft BizTalk platforms, Siebel said.

With a UAN that includes packaged integration applications, which run on integration servers, companies can leverage existing IT investments and optimize cross-application business processes, according to Siebel.

"We see the UAN market as growing four or five times larger than the CRM market," Siebel executive vice president David Schmaier said in a press briefing following the keynote address.


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