OPENWORLD: Siebel On Demand to become 'social CRM'

By Eric Lai, Computerworld |  Software

At its OpenWorld show this week, Oracle Corp. is expected to announce an upcoming
version of its Siebel CRM On Demand service that will include social networking
features reminiscent of consumer portals such as Facebook or MySpace.

The previewed features, according to Oracle, will help salespeople make their
sales -- unlike the bulk of the features in CRM applications, which are oriented
towards reporting and otherwise helping managers track salespeoples' progress.

Anthony Lye, Oracle CRM On Demand senior vice-president, previewed several
of those analytical features at the Software and Information Industry Association's
(SIIA) show in San Jose last week. One mashes up data about sales orders from
internal systems with external information in order to help predict sales opportunities.
Another enables the ability for salespeople to create and join groups, ala Facebook.

Another feature is a library of sales material that salespeople can quickly
preview or edit via an interface that Jeff Kaplan, an analyst with ThinkStrategies
Inc., said "borrows heavily from the look and feel of the iPod's interface."

Still another lets users integrate their LinkedIn contact list for access by
other users, according to Rebecca Wettemann, an analyst with Wellesley, Mass.-based
Nucleus Research.

More features will debut at OpenWorld, though Oracle has been mysterious as
to exactly when it plans to officially unveil this pumped-up version of Siebel
CRM On Demand, which it acquired in late 2005. Lye is not scheduled to give
a keynote speech at OpenWorld.

Oracle goes big with SaaS targets

In the overall CRM space, Oracle claims Siebel, via its on-premise and on demand
versions, to be the market leader, with 4.6 million users at 5,000 company customers.

Oracle released version 14 of Siebel CRM On Demand in late June.

In October, WebEx announced that its Connect platform would host Siebel CRM
On Demand.

WebEx has 2.3 million registered users. Siebel CRM On Demand should be available
through WebEx in early 2008.

Siebel faces challenges from Salesforce, which claims nearly a million users,
and Microsoft, which plans to release an online version of its Dynamics CRM
software next year, as well as SAP.

Unlike most Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors, which have been targeting
small-to-medium-sized companies, Oracle is aiming these features at big enterprises.

Microsoft did recently announce plans to target large enterprises with hosted
versions of its server software. But Kaplan says that Oracle is the only one
of the large enterprise vendors that appears to be making a wholehearted push
for those users.

SAP AG and Microsoft Corp. "look at SaaS as an SMB play," Kaplan
said. "Oracle doesn't see it that way."

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