Siebel to offer build-to-order CRM applications

LOS ANGELES — Siebel Systems wants to tap into what it says makes up about 75 per cent of the CRM market — companies that want their own custom-built applications.

Until now, Siebel has only been providing pre-packaged solutions, said Mike Lawrie, Siebel Systems Inc.’s newly crowned CEO during

a keynote address at Siebel User Week. The company will now work with partners such as IBM to provide pieces of software as they build custom applications for users. Prior to this move, a customer that wanted to take advantage of the San Mateo, Calif-based Siebel’s offerings had to buy the whole suite. Now, companies can choose just the components they require. Companies are shifting from using all-encompassing applications to employing “”componentized”” software, Lawrie said, discussing some of the trends in the industry.

Siebel announced the availability of enterprise analytic applications and its intention to focus on industry verticals.

The new focus on industry is something Claire Lawrence, the senior business planner for marketing at Regina, Sask.-based SaskTel appreciates.

The telco has been using Siebel’s eSales for its Web site since June 2001. It has also deployed a Siebel sales force automation tool.

Though SaskTel customized its eSales application, this was done primarily because the product was new and immature at the time the telco implemented it, making customization a must, she said. However, the company did not customize its Siebel sales force automation tool. Instead, the sales team changed its methods to fit the tool. This makes upgrading the product much easier, she said.

Easing call centre woes

Another Siebel user, Edmonton-based ATB Financial, is in the process of implementing a new front end for its tellers. The company first began using Siebel about four years ago when it put in a new call centre. All stakeholders agreed creating a complete view of and continuous dialogue with the customer were the priorities, said Ken Casey, ATB’s senior vice-president of retail banking delivery.

This would prevent the need for customers to repeat their issues when they have to call into the centre more than once, he said. The company chose Siebel because it was a more complete solution, Casey said. However, like many CRM users, ATB ended up taking advantage of only a fraction of the solution’s capabilities.

“”I was kind of appalled at how little (of the application) people use,”” he said. Because the system has been around for about four years, his staff starts to forget the functionality it offers.

“”I have guys running around looking for sales automation solutions. It’s there. You forget about what’s there after four years.””

Even though ATB has only tapped a portion of its CRM solution, it still managed to meet all its goals, including improved efficiency and an increased revenue.

The company also looked into a CRM solution for its tellers, and chose Eontec, which was acquired by Siebel shortly thereafter. Because the bank dealt with its customers through a variety of channels — the phone, the Internet and the teller — Casey thought it was wise to build a middleware solution using IBM’s WebSphere to connect the different front ends.

ATB experimented with CRM OnDemand, Siebel’s utility solution, for its sales force automation. But this, he said, was destined for failure because the sales processes hadn’t been defined yet. Also, executives didn’t endorse the solution and gave sales people the option of using it or not. For the most part, they chose not to use it.

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