Siebel Systems Inc. is readying a more basic package of its CRM applications with reduced features and simplified default business rules in an attempt to quell criticism over the softwares complexity and long install process.
Siebel, the market-leading customer relationship management software developer, will use the offering, which will be rolled out late this year, to reduce the time and cost of an initial CRM implementation. The company will continue to provide more complex functionality for vertical enterprises.
Enterprise customers of Siebel software have a dizzying array of options with 400 modules that can be deployed out of the box. The new packaging, which is being called the "Base" CRM product internally at Siebel, will simplify the planning, purchasing and deployment of those applications by reducing the number of options in the initial purchase, officials said. That could be expanded with additional modules based on user roles and business processes.
"Were packaging up sales, marketing and service applications but reducing the number of options to make it simple for companies to deploy what they want. Were simplifying the product, the packaging and the pricing," said Kevin Nix, Siebel group vice president for Industry Applications, in San Mateo, Calif.
Like Siebels Mid-Market Edition for small and midsize businesses, the Base CRM package will likely include fundamental sales applications such as list management and quote generation. But it will be targeted squarely for the enterprise, Nix said.
Some Siebel customers are skeptical that such an approach can work for the enterprise.
"For a company our size, I dont think that would fly," said Bill Geronimo, director of CRM application development at Pitney Bowes Inc., in Stamford, Conn. "If youre a large company, you need all those bells and whistles; thats what makes the difference. If you dont have them, you end up having to customize the heck out of it."
Pitney Bowes uses Siebel for call center, sales, field service, forecasting and workflow applications and has been a Siebel customer for four years. Geronimo said that while other vendors do parts of CRM well, Siebel is still the best at sharing data among sales, call center and field service applications.
"Every boutique software package out there does something better than Siebel, but when you add them together, theyre not cumulatively the best."
Pricing for the bundles has not yet been determined, but Nix said that it will be "price competitive."
Siebel enterprise customers on average pay $600,000 to $700,000 in license fees per deal, one of the highest in the CRM industry. The average deal size for the Base CRM applications will likely remain the same, a company spokeswoman said. But Siebel is looking to reduce the implementation time, which the spokeswoman said made up the bulk of a customers expense when deploying the software.
REPACKAGING SIEBEL CRM
Pitney Bowes Geronimo said that Siebels applications are not difficult to implement and that most of the implementation and custom development headaches come from getting reams of customer data from multiple sources into the applications.
While Siebel tries to immunize itself from charges of high cost and complexity, the company remains focused on extending its CRM products to solve more complex business problems. It has 20 vertical applications, more than any other vendor.
Tom Rouse, president of NSK Precision America Inc., said the lack of simplified product packaging and pricing led his company away from Siebel when it was evaluating CRM software last year. NSK chose Salesforce.com Inc.
"We saw Siebel as more complex, costing more, and we had the perception that their implementation time would have been higher," said Rouse, in Addison, Ill. "It was three strikes, and they were out. We wanted to pick the applications we wanted. ... I didnt see that option from Siebel. If I saw that, I would have been more interested."
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