Welcome to the CRM Jungle

It’s getting nasty out there in the new world of software. Earlier this week, the gloves came off in the battle between Web-based ASPs and enterprise software giants. While that skirmish is heating up, today one Web-based application pioneer unveiled its plans to lure customers from a fellow bellwether ASP.

PeopleSoft Lashes Out
In Sunday’s San Jose Mercury News, PeopleSoft’s CEO Craig Conway unleashed a virtual assault on Web-based software in general and Net-native customer relationship management (CRM) ASP Salesforce.com in particular:

“The financial results speak for themselves. Salesforce.com has 5,300 customers and is still not profitable. How many more customers do you need? …. Small, young companies that are not profitable are not viable, regardless of how they promote themselves.”

“The fact is that there is no ASP on planet Earth that has ever been profitable, including our own. Most have gone out of business. The remaining are unprofitable and running out of cash.”

Conway went on to tell the Mercury News that information-intensive enterprises have no intention of outsourcing their application to what he described as comomdity-software vendors with “100 venture-backed employees working out of a garage in Silicon Valley.”

Salesforce.com Says No More Software
Wednesday Salesforce.com took a few shots of its own at traditional CRM software, launching an advertising campaign that attacks Siebel primarily, but also address what its sees as the out-of-date practices of PeopleSoft, SAP and Oracle. “We are excited to launch this new advertisement as a testament to our customers’ successes with Salesforce.com and as further recognition of the end of software,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of salesforce.com.

In its new ad campaign, Salesforce.com claims that in the past year it has added more CRM customers than Siebel, PeopleSoft, Oracle and SAP combined.

The first ad (at left), which is part of what Salesforce.com describes as a $5-10 million campaign, features the word Siebel circled with a slash through it. The ad copy invites companies that have “lost their shirts” to Siebel to call for a free “No Siebel” t-shirt.

Salesforce.com Becomes the Hunted

While Salesforce.com is attacking enterprise software vendors, NetLedger has its sights set on Salesforce.com. In an ironic choice of words, NetLedger is aiming to help Salesforce.com users move from what it describes as “Salesforce.com’s legacy stand-alone SFA [sales force automation] application. The irony is that NetLedger and Salesforce.com both started life at roughly the same time in the late ’90s.

However, in recent months, NetLedger has aggressively rolled out services to offer an integrated front-office and back-office product line.

“Salesforce.com on-line SFA applications have the same problem as applications like Siebel,” NetLedger president Zach Nelson told ASPnews. “They can’t provide a 360-degree view of the customer because they lack back-office integration. And small to midsize enterprises don’t have the time or the money to fill in this deficiency for Salesforce.com.”

To lure Salesforce.com users, NetLedger today announced new migration capabilities designed to help businesses switch from Salesforce.com’s. According to the San Mateo, Calif.-based company, the new Legacy SFA Switch Program includes products, a migration wizard and license credits to move from an isolated salesforce management application to an integrated business management suite.

NetLedger said the program is designed to complement the company’s existing migration tools that let users move from Goldmine, ACT!, QuickBooks and Peachtree. NetLedger produces the Oracle Small Business Suite, NetLedger Advanced Accounting, NetCRM, and NetSuite.

The Envy of Them of All
As bombs fly from all directions in this battle over how software will be delivered in the future and who will deliver it, one thing is becoming clear: Salesforce.com — an aggressive ASP that isn’t phased by smaller companies nipping at its heels and multi-billion firms trying to squish it — is emerging as the prototypical software-as-a-service vendor.

Dan Muse is managing editor of ASPnews. Contact him at [email protected]

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