The buyout was a good move for Siebel because "customer self-service is one of those things that is only going to gain in importance," said Denis Pombriant, founder and principal of Beagle Research Group, a CRM market research firm in Stoughton, Mass. As more people become used to doing business on the Web, enterprises are going to turn to Web customer-service applications to reach the most people while keeping their investments in call centers, he said. The acquisition "really strengthens their hand in CRM" and keeps them focused on the companys market strengths, Pombriant said. While Siebel has gone through a prolonged period of slow growth and declining profitability, Pombriant said hes "not too concerned about Siebels long-term potential for survival."These were key reasons why Siebel decided to buy Edocs, Ford said. "In Edocs, we have a company that has more than 100 customersblue chip customersand that has demonstrated highly scalable technology," Ford said. Most importantly, he said, Edocs has "great experience in servicing customers on the Web channel." Click here to read about Siebels introduction of a suite of highly focused business analytics applications. Siebel wants to capture a "growing share" of the online self-service and e-billing market that is estimated to be worth $3 billion," he said. The two companies already had a technology integration partnership in place that developed as they worked together to deploy their respective applications at several customer sites, Ford said. Siebel expects to integrate Edocs products into its customer-service application suite in the next year. While Edocs has primarily deployed its software at customer sites, it recently started implementing the products as hosted Web applications to customers who requested it, Ford said. Siebel plans to deploy the software at customer sites and as part of its own hosted application service, he said. "We have been active in Web-based self-service ourselves for a number of years," Ford said. Customers such as Microsoft Corp. are using Siebels own customer-service applications, which shift about 36,000 transactions a day from call centers to Web self-service applications, he said. Another advantage of the Edocs buyout is that customers will be able to link the customer billing information to Siebels business analytics software to see which customers are generating the most sales and profits. Customers can use this information to "deliver a differentiated level of service, different offers, different pricing and ultimately a better service experience," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.
The combination of CRM, self service, e-billing and BI (business intelligence) puts it in a "niche that a lot of people would like to have," he said.