Siebel: The Undisputed LeaderBy John McCormick | Posted 2002-03-18 Email Print
Dossier: Siebel dominates the CRM market with solid products and excellent service, but its suite may be too bulky for some customers to swallow.
There are reasons Siebel is the leader in customer relationship management software. Its products are technically sound and its interface is top-notch. It's setting the pace with CRM products tailored for industries such as retail and auto. And it pays close attention to what its customers think—going so far as to survey every company on its client list each quarter.
But nobody does everything right. Customers complain about the enormous size of Siebel's CRM suite. While Oracle streamlines its CRM offering to about 50 separate modules, Siebel 7, the Web version of the company's flagship product, incorporates 198 applications. And some customers wind up paying for features they don't need.
Greg Augustine, vice president of information systems at TidalWire, a distributor of storage networking products, says even the company's own representatives have a tough time keeping track of all of Siebel 7's pieces. "They seem to struggle with the fact that each of these products is called a different thing," says Augustine, who notes that his overall experience with Siebel has nonetheless been positive.
Indeed, despite the fact that Siebel is supporting so many parts, users generally give the company high marks for product quality. "We did an exhaustive comparison," says Ed Tunstall, the executive in charge of sales and marketing technology at Eli Lilly. "Every time, Siebel came out on top."
Like many Siebel customers, Tunstall is impressed with the breadth and capabilities of the company's vertical applications. Siebel has just over a dozen industry-specific products, which now account for about 80% of sales.
While sales to particular industries are gaining momentum, the company's results have been hurt by the continuing decline in technology spending. And that may bring out a perceived blemish of Siebel's: its reputation for pushing customers.
"They're very much a quarterly driven company," Tunstall says. "And we get into frequent disagreements with them over how we're going to deal with licensed software."
"That's not the company's core culture," says Siebel senior vice president Steve Mankoff, adding he hopes "some of those reps aren't around anymore."
Siebel's technical support, in any event, couldn't be stronger. "They've been right here, working side-by-side with our crew during our implementation," says Patrick Geraghty of Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey, which phased in its Siebel CRM system last year.
Siebel Systems / 2207 Bridgepointe Parkway, San Mateo, CA 94404
(650) 295-5000 / www.siebel.com
Thomas M. Siebel
Before founding the company in 1996, Siebel served as CEO of Gain Technology, a multimedia software company that was merged with Sybase at the end of 1992. He also did a six-year stint at Oracle, where he held a number of senior positions.
President, Chief Operating Officer
Senior VP, Finance and Administration, and CFO
Main CRM Competitors
Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP
Information Officer, sales and marketing IT
Project: Lilly has a call center running on Siebel software and is using the vertical package designed for the pharmaceutical industry.
Fleet Small Business Services
Senior VP, sales technology
Project: This unit of FleetBoston Financial is using Siebel Call Center and Siebel eBusiness applications as a sales-force automation system.
Project: The storage networking products distributor went live with Siebel 6 in October 2000 and has been upgrading since. In December 2000, the company added order-entry features.
Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey
Senior VP, service division
Project: In November 2001, the company decided to deploy Siebel's eBusiness suite, including Web and call center applications, to boost customer service.
Project: The telecom provider purchased the Siebel 7 Industry Application suite for the communications market and is using the call center, product configurator, sales commission, Siebel.com and other modules.
Project: The software company's North American operation is using Siebel's sales-force automation tools. The executives listed here are all Siebel customers. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.