Siebel Launches 7th OnDemand Installment

Officials at CRM leader Siebel Systems said
their commitment to hosted software remains priority one, as shown with the
Tuesday launch of CRM OnDemand 7.

While the new release features a unified communications desktop and new
analytics tools, the San Mateo, Calif., company showcased the functionality
of its new Contact OnDemand Module, which is built into version 7 and is the first of its kind in the industry to marry hosted telephony and CRM.

The functionality comes courtesy of its $5 million acquisition of hosted telephony provider Ineto Services in January
2004.

Bruce Cleveland, Siebel senior vice president and OnDemand/SMB general
manager, said in a press conference Tuesday the release is the seventh in
little more than a year. That fact, he said, should answer some of the
questions and doubts posed by the press over Siebel’s commitment to hosted
software.

“There’s been some questions of, ‘Is Siebel in this business? Are we really
in the OnDemand industry?’ I want to assure you that the amount
of resources that we’ve been investing in this particular area across our
CRM OnDemand and Contact OnDemand are significant,” said Cleveland.

Despite a rocky start with sales.com, Siebel’s foray into hosted CRM in 1999, the company
gave it another try by teaming up
with IBM in October 2003 to provide Siebel OnDemand, as well as buying hosted CRM
provider UpShot for roughly $70 million and Motiva for $3 million later that
month.

Since that time, Siebel has released OnDemand updates at a fast clip, beefing
up its partner program and expanding into industry niches.

While Siebel holds a commanding market share lead in CRM software,
Salesforce.com has a commanding lead in hosted CRM. In a recent interview
with Reuters, Cleveland stated the company will catch up to
Salesforce.com in two years if Siebel continues its growth rate of
30 percent quarter-over-quarter.

OnDemand 7 features some core platform improvements, notably in its unified
communications desktop, which tracks and drives communications made
throughout the sales, marketing and Web channels. The new version also
assists its customers by routing communications based on agent skill,
availability and customer need.

But the real benefit is with the Contact OnDemand module, which integrates
the hosted telephony services once provided by Ineto with Siebel’s CRM
hosted offering.

Among the benefits derived from integrated PBX
, automatic call distribution (ACD) and VoIP
support, the hosted offering also allows for control over outsourced call
center functions and the need to customize third-party software.

“It gives them another weapon in their arsenal for on-demand [CRM],” said
Joe Galvin, an analyst at Gartner Research. “By complementing their sales
application with the contact application, they can now reach a broader
segment of the audience and meet those who want contact center
functionality, sales functionality or both.”

Cleveland said the functionality integrated into Contact OnDemand requires
third-party add-ons for customers of its archrival Salesforce.com. Mike
Betzer, Seibel vice president of Contact OnDemand and former founder and CEO
of Ineto, said the costs associated with integrating all these services into
a CRM product would run $1 million and six months worth of integration time
to launch.

“Every time you add another component to this stack, it becomes more and
more difficult,” he said. “What we have found is that customers are tired
of buying multiple-point solutions and trying to integrate them together.
The word integration is used too easily, too frequently and is much harder
than people are making it sound.”

A bundled CRM and Contact OnDemand offering will cost customers $150 per
month, per user. A standalone version of Contact OnDemand is available for
$100 per month, per user, and can be integrated into existing software or
hosted CRM application.

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