Siebel creates cheaper, SMB software version

By Stacy Cowley, IDG News Service |  Small Business

Siebel Systems Inc. has quietly introduced a version of its CRM (customer relationship management) sales software tailored for midmarket companies.

In March, the company released for limited distribution its Siebel Professional Edition to replace a previous incarnation called the Siebel eBusiness Applications MidMarket Edition. The new version is priced at US$995 per user, just above the annual per-user cost of Siebel's hosted CRM OnDemand subscription service.

Siebel Professional Edition is aimed at the SMB (small and medium business) market, which Siebel defines as companies with annual revenue of up to US$500 million. Larger companies are still free to purchase the Professional Edition if they choose, according to product manager Justin Shriber.

Customers can buy Professional Editions of Siebel's base sales, service, marketing, or call center applications, with add-on modules such as e-mail marketing or wireless access support available for no extra cost. Professional Edition users have access to all the application functionality in Siebel's high-end Enterprise Edition, Shriber said. What the SMB version lacks are some of the Enterprise Edition's scalability features and deployment options.

Siebel Professional Edition's main distinguishing point is its slimmed-down installation procedures. Siebel found that its small business customers tended to have less complex business processes, more consolidated data centers, and similar infrastructures, usually built around Microsoft Corp.'s Windows and SQL, Shriber said. Siebel has tailored the Professional Edition for the SMB deployment environments it typically encountered.

One happy customer said he deployed the Professional Edition on time and under budget. Working with a local services firm, WestStar Bank of Vail, Colorado, rolled out a 100-user installation in six weeks, according to Vice President Rob Verratti.

WestStar had completed eight acquisitions since 1995, and as a result had a hodgepodge of IT systems. It wanted an on-premise CRM system, and after evaluating a number of products, Verratti selected Siebel because the company offered realistic implementation plans and straightforward pricing.

"It was not easy, but it was not hard either," Verratti said. "It went as planned. We've been live for 90 days, and it's working."

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