Siebel, IBM Take CRM On Demand

by Clint Boulton

UPDATE: Siebel and IBM offer up a menu of software delivered by-the-byte.

In a sign that on-demand computing is starting to vault from theory into the applications realm, IBM said it has teamed with Siebel Systems on a new hosted customer relationship management (CRM) software service that customers can deploy at the click of a button.

IBM and Siebel will sell the Siebel CRM OnDemand service for $70 per month to small-and medium-sized business customers who require a CRM service without a middleman. The Armonk, N.Y.-based systems vendor and San Mateo, Calif.-based applications concern will develop, market, sell and deliver the offering together.

Financial terms of this deal were not disclosed by the long-time partners, who together serve more than 1,000 customers.

CRM is the process of managing customer care to increase sales. Siebel CRM OnDemand makes it possible for businesses to tap a CRM application via the Web to help businesses craft a small CRM project that may be expanded as a business grows.

Siebel CRM OnDemand can be used to help companies get more sales leads and follow them up, as well as to improve sales forecasting and shorten sales cycles. The service features the amenities of a CRM application, including built-in analytics. With this feature, sales and marketing workers can quickly take action on closing sales.

Elaine Lennox, director of marketing for IBM Global Small and Medium Businesses, said the offering is unique in that it is available in increments as small as one individual user to hundreds of users in the SMB space.

"This gets us into the business applications space," Lennox told internetnews.com. "But it also gives small and medium businesses who couldn't afford to expand their CRM offering to expand it cost-effectively."

Lennox said the news is also a reminder to the public of IBM's place in the SMB market, which she said accounts for 20 percent of the company's revenues. It also shows IBM's interest in bringing ISVs into IBM's broad on-demand embrace.

The partnership between the two vendors is deep to the extent that Siebel and IBM have entered a multiyear deal that is chaired by a board of directors. This board includes: Mike Lawrie, IBM Senior Vice President and Group Executive, IBM Global Sales and Distribution; Thomas M. Siebel, CEO of Siebel Systems; David Schmaier, Executive Vice President, Siebel Systems; and Doug Elix, Senior Vice President and Group Executive of IBM Global Services.

Considered together, the deal is just the latest fruit of a partnership in which a leading applications provider and leading infrastructure provider team to reach more customers, as neither makes what the other specializes in. IBM and Siebel have been offering out-of-the-box integration between IBM's DB2 UDB database and Siebel applications since 1999.

For IBM, the deal will bolster its on-demand endeavors, taking them out of the realm of offering such utilities via its servers and infrastructure software to reach applications customers. For Siebel, the service will help its push to reach more customers in a competitive environment thrust into uncertainty in the wake of the Oracle/PeopleSoft hostile takeover brouhaha.

Siebel CRM OnDemand will be sold by IBM's sales force dedicated to the small and medium-sized market and by Siebel's global field sales organization. The companies plan to launch a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign to reach their customers.

IBM and Siebel will offer a 30-day free trial of Siebel CRM OnDemand, available this calendar quarter.

  This article was originally published on Thursday Oct 2nd 2003
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