Siebel Updates Hosted CRM Software

by Jim Wagner

UPDATED: The CRM vendor is tackling the verticals with OnDemand software catering to industry-specific markets.

UPDATED: Siebel's CRM software, originally aimed at small- to medium-sized businesses (SMB), is getting an upgrade, with new capabilities and functionality targeted at specific industries.

CRM OnDemand 6, the San Mateo, Calif., company's hosted software offering, now features four pre-built editions of its existing software: financial services, high-tech, medical and automotive editions.

Siebel's hosted CRM application, which allows SMBs to make use of the software's capabilities without investing in the software or hardware itself, runs businesses $70 per user per month to use; the industry-specific editions cost $100 per user per month. The company is running a promotion through Feb. 11 which will let companies test one of the industry-specific editions for $70.

Bruce Cleveland, Siebel OnDemand and SMB senior vice president and general manager, said in a press conference Tuesday the industry-specific editions are the first hosted CRM offering of its kind, adding that this is a "game-changing announcement" for the sector. The new software extends existing data models and links them to a modified UI using a new set of business processes.

"This isn't just lipstick at the user interface level," he said in a press conference Tuesday. "This is deep integration, data model changes and best practice changes that have been linked together to really go after and enable companies in these markets -- these industries -- to be able to take this product off the shelf and have it be tailored for their specific needs."

It allows them to do this without having to spend significant amounts of money customizing it and tweaking it for their specific requirements, he continued.

The core OnDemand 6 software includes new functionality like the Sales Process Coach. The feature lets businesses build the sales processes used by their top sales representatives into a template for use by the entire sales force. Other improvements include: mail merge with Microsoft Word and pre-built support for reporting and analysis in Excel; a 60 percent increase in custom data access controls; advanced territory management capabilities; and support for Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Portuguese.

The software service is a joint effort between Siebel and IBM , which the companies first announced in October 2003 to bring enterprise-quality CRM down to the SMB market. The two companies share in the development, marketing, sale and distribution of the product, with Siebel providing the software and IBM hosting the service.

Siebel has been an industry leader in the software that manages the process of customer care to increase sales for more than a decade. It has been making a big push in recent times to enter a sector of the CRM business popularized by companies like Salesforce.com. Along with its joint venture with IBM, Siebel bought rival UpShot in October 2003 to gain stronger footing with its online CRM service.

Last month, the company launched a three-pronged strategy to market to an SMB industry Siebel officials said was underserved by Siebel competitors in the space -- like Salesforce.com, Onyx and SalesLogix.

  This article was originally published on Tuesday Jan 11th 2005
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