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Siebel Updates CRM OnDemand

Siebel Systems released an update to its CRM OnDemand product with enhanced collaboration and segmentation features. The update is the fifth in the last 12 months.

"One of the great things about an on-demand service is that it's easier to do frequent releases," said Keith Raffel, Siebel's group vice president of on demand products

Release 8 of Siebel CRM OnDemand, the company's hosted CRM offering, adds group calendaring and delegated task management, so that a work team can coordinate schedules and share resources; integration with Microsoft Outlook is built-in. The shared calendar can be used in consolidated view, showing all the team's meetings.

"Somewhat to our surprise, we found users wanted group calendaring built into Siebel OnDemand," Raffel said. "Many companies want to stay within the product all the time."

Administrators can customize groups to determine which accounts or opportunities will be shared among a team. Teams can now track business and social relationships between users in the group.

The Marketing Segmentation Wizard can perform multi-dimensional segmentations within the application's hosted database or include third-party databases, such as marketing lists that have been purchased from third parties. Marketing managers can use the application's analytics and business intelligence tools to monitor performance of campaigns.

"This is a way for Siebel to enter the small business market where it's never been a player," Raffel said. He denied that the frequent updates were a response to the success of Salesforce.com in this segment.

"We compete against Salesforce.com in a lot of deals," he said. "Our win rate against them has gone way up. It's over 50 percent now." For example, he said Siebel competed against Salesforce.com to win the business of BMW and McGraw-Hill.

Raffel said more large enterprises are becoming interested in its on-demand product, and Siebel has a separate sales force to sell to them. The ability to offer either on-demand or installed software is a strategic advantage, he said.

"We say, 'You can run it, or we'll run it. Let's figure out the right model for you,'" he said. "We call it our 'one product, two deployment' strategy."

To accommodate big customers putting in millions rather than thousands of records, Siebel made the application faster, according to Raffel, by upgrading processors in the servers and streamlining the software. "This version is 10 to 20 percent more responsive, whatever you're doing," he said.

Siebel CRM OnDemand came out on top in a recent ROI shootout conducted by Nucleus Research.

The Wellesley, Mass.-based IT research firm ranked Siebel and RightNow at the top for on-demand CRM products, tied for first place with a score of 4.4 out of 5. Nucleus considered ease of deployment, how widely corporate users would adopt the application, how much internal support it required, the potential benefits of the software and the vendor's track record.

Raffel said Siebel is gearing up to make all its products available on-demand, in response to analysts' estimates that in the future, hosted offerings will be more prevalent than on-premises software.