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Siebel to acquire hosted telephony firm

Siebel plans to buy Ineto Services and incorporate its technology with its recently released CRM OnDemand offering.

Siebel Systems Inc. continued its push into the hosted market this morning, announcing the acquisition of Ineto Services Inc., an Austin, Texas-based company that provides hosted telephony infrastructure. The cash deal is worth $5 million.

"What this looks to be is basically in conjunction with the UpShot acquisition, further evidence that Siebel is fairly serious about augmenting its on-premise solutions with the on-demand solutions," said Steve Bonadio, senior CRM program director with Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group.

San Mateo, Calif.-based Siebel acquired hosted provider UpShot Corp. late last year and recently began offering its own hosted solution, called Siebel CRM OnDemand.

According to Siebel, the acquisition will enable CRM OnDemand customers to deploy telephony software at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, offering telephony services extends Siebel into an area not typically thought of as a strength for CRM providers.

"The thing about multi-channel contact centers, which is where traditional voice centers are evolving, is that small companies can't afford the telephony infrastructure," Bonadio said. "For Siebel, $5 million is pennies, but despite the small amount, Siebel is saying, 'We're serious about on-demand, and we want to extend it beyond sales and into the contact center.'"

Siebel is touting the integration of its on-demand product with Ineto's technology as a way to deliver a virtual contact center that will allow customer service representatives to work anywhere.

"You have a laptop to do sales; now it's the same thing with the contact center," said Keith Raffel, vice president of Siebel's CRM OnDemand group. "You can be an agent anywhere. You can move around and say, 'Today I'm going to take calls at home.'"

The hosted customer communications service will provide integrated telephone, voice mail, call monitoring and call recording in a browser-based application, Siebel said. It will provide voice, voice mail, IVR, e-mail, chat and fax communication channels for both inbound and outbound centers, according to Siebel.

Ineto currently has 70 customers, according to Mike Betzer, Ineto's CEO and co-founder.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the month, but the combined offering -- based on Ineto's technology -- is now available. Pricing is still being determined. Ineto's service sells for $100 per user per month plus six cents per minute of use. CRM OnDemand costs $70 per user per month.

Despite the attention it received when it announced its new hosted offering and the acquisition of UpShot, thus far Siebel has gained little traction with CRM OnDemand, Bonadio said. Siebel's primary competitors in the hosted marketplace include Salesforce.com, NetSuite Inc. and Salesnet Inc.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Siebel services UpShot software

Article: Does Siebel's surge foretell a stronger CRM market?

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