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ADT at Comdex: Siebel pitches CRM for everyone

LAS VEGAS, NV - Two years ago, Siebel Systems decided that delivering CRM services via the Web wasn't its cup of tea, and so it pulled out of the hosted CRM market. But one of the great things about being an applications powerhouse with more than 4,500 customers and applications deployed on about 2 million seats is that you can jump right back into a market if you want to.

And Siebel wants to.

The company's founder, CEO and namesake, Thomas Siebel, was on hand on Tuesday in Las Vegas at the Comdex trade show to pitch his new 'CRM for Everyone' strategy.

'Hosted CRM is an emerging market we think offers a great deal of utility,' Siebel said, 'and we think we can combine these technologies and offer hybrid solutions and offer larger organizations the opportunity to utilize these. Our strategy going forward is to enable companies to [extend] CRM to everyone in their organizations and their partner ecosystems.'

Siebel's presentation took the form of a promotion of his company's 'CRM OnDemand' initiative, a $300 million joint development deal with IBM. The initiative is designed to provide midsize firms and divisions of large companies with top-flight CRM software without the need for new hardware, training or an up-front investment, he said.

Siebel said that his company expects the hosted CRM market to generate $1 billion in revenue in 2004, and $1.8 billion the following year. CRM OnDemand leverages IBM's hosting infrastructure to provide a Web-based CRM application that will allow Siebel to tap into that market and reach more of the estimated 109 million potential enterprise CRM users, he said.

OnDemand's features, demoed during Seibel's presentation, include lead profile and status tracking capabilities, sales views that display both individual and team sales performance, tracking and status reports on customer service requests, dashboard graphics that display sales projections and long-standing customer issues, and built-in analytics for drilling down into potential sales problems.

Siebel's recent acquisition of hosted CRM provider UpShot Corp. was part of the company's return-to-hosted-CRM strategy, he said, and he pledged to continue to support UpShot users. The company will offer those customers a free upgrade currently under development jointly by Siebel and the former UpShot team.

Siebel's chief rival in the hosted CRM space is market leader Salesforce.com, which claims an estimated 8,000 customers. Seibel said that he expects his company to take a significant share of the market. 'We would not enter a market unless we were sure that we could get a 50 percent market share,' he said.

The San Mateo, Calif.-based company's original hosted CRM offering, Sales.com, was discontinued in 2001 during a severe downturn in the application service provider (ASP) industry. The company announced its reentry into the market in October.

Siebel is offering its CRM OnDemand service, which users access via the Internet using a Web browser, for $70 per user per month. The service is currently in beta testing, but Seibel said that it would be available by the end of 2003.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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