Siebel Systems says it hasn’t forgotten resellers in its plan to launch a hosted version of its customer relationship management software for small and medium-sized companies.

There are hopes of having a reseller version, according to Ken Rudin, the company’s vice-president of product marketing

and product management. But he refused to detail the models being suggested, and said it’s up to resellers to agree on how to do it.

“”I promise you we’re doing everything we can to get a reseller signed up,”” said Rudin. “”I can’t promise you that they will agree they want to do this right now.””

“”We’ve put together a pretty comprehensive plan in front of some of the most innovative resellers in these areas. We want to build a reseller channel.”” He wouldn’t identify the resellers.

Other industries – such as broadband – have come up with ways for resellers to sell the services provided by others, he said. “”It’s just a matter of can we get the heads of these other (Siebel) resellers around what it will take to change. And it’s going to be the bold and forward-thinking ones to get it.””

The San Mateo, Calif.-based company is partnering with IBM to deliver Siebel CRM OnDemand for US$70 a user per month over the Web. It will be sold through IBM and Siebel’s staff starting some time before the end of the year.

The product was demonstrated Tuesday at the opening of Siebel’s annual user group conference in San Diego.

Unlike the standard application sale there is no installation revenue to a VAR in a hosted app, he noted, suggesting the problem is figuring out how to get resellers a piece of a hosted app’s revenue.

CRM OnDemand is similar to Siebel’s MidMarket Edition suite, with sales, service, lead management and analytic modules. OnDemand, however, is aimed at companies who don’t want to run a CRM application or don’t need to customize the app. Other potential customers include divisions of a company which already licences Siebel but don’t need the full functionality.

“”A large number of our existing customers want a blend of on-premise and hosted software,”” Rudin said.

Warren Shiau, senior software analyst for IDC Canada, noted that Siebel is following the trend of many enterprise software vendors to offer a hosted service. But, he added, unlike reports in the U.S., it “”hasn’t taken off in the Canadian market.””

“”The area of hosting isn’t generating rocketship growth.””

In a research note The Aberdeen Group observed that Siebel tried and abandoned a client-server hosted service in 2001.

But, it added, “”based on the Siebel/IBM entry into the hosted CRM market, and coupled with the success of salesforce.com and other vendors, it is reasonable to expect an uptick in demand for hosted CRM.””

Siebel resellers include international consulting companies like Accenture, Cap Gemini Ernst and Young, and Deloitte.

Asked why Siebel resellers shouldn’t be scared of the company competing directly against them, Rudin replied: “”I don’t believe the whole market is going that way (hosting).”” VARs can still sell the company’s other products, he said, which is expected to be healthy market.

“”The only reason I think they should be scared is if they aren’t the ones who figure out how to become a part of this and their competitors do.””

“”There will be a robust reseller channel. There has never been a successful business in the mid-market where it has only been sold direct.””

“”Our challenge now is how do we get these reseller channels to see the light (about hosting)? I can’t promise you when that’s going to happen. I can promise you it’s going to be a very tough road for anybody in this market for the resellers if they decide they don’t want to do this.””

Meanwhile at the Siebel conference the company showed off Siebel 7.7, the next release of its enterprise CRM suite, which it said has hundreds of new industry-specific capabilities and numerous usability enhancements. They include two-way store-and-forward wireless support, and new capabilities such as a new financial services customer relationship console for branch banking. Siebel 7.7 will be released in the spring of 2004.

Also shown was New Siebel Analytics 7.7, a new and enhanced suite of customer analytics applications and platform to be released before the end of the year, and new deployment options for Universal Application Network, which now supports both .NET and J2EE platforms as well as newly emerging Web Services standards for business process integration.

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