Salesforce.com Inc. and Siebel Systems Inc. are renewing their heated battle for the hosted customer relationship management application services space.
Salesforce.com is announcing its Summer 05 release next Tuesday, while Siebel announced Release 8 of its Siebel CRM OnDemand service Wednesday. Salesforce.com, with 15,500 customers and 267,000 users, has long dominated the hosted CRM space. Siebel has more deployed CRM users than any company with 3.2 million, but it has been in the hosted CRM space for just over a year.
Salesforce.coms Summer 05 release will include the companys Multiforce operating system, which will unite the companys hosted application services with other application services that customers create using Salesforce.coms development environment.
Other features in the Summer 05 release center around improved customization capabilities. Chief among them is support for customizable forecasting, technology that Salesforce.com first issued in an administrative preview of the Summer 04 release.
There is also support for custom formula fields and report calculations and a customized customer self-service portal. Other capabilities include case escalation in the companys Supportforce service and e-mail verification for e-mail marketing campaigns.
A key feature of Release 8 of Siebel CRM OnDemand is support for what the company calls "contact networking," which will allow Siebel CRM OnDemand customers to better manage relationships between employees and customer contacts. Its a technology that niche players such as LexisNexis Interface Software, which specializes in CRM for professional services, have built their business around.
Siebel vice president Keith Raffel said the technology was important to a number of industries, including financial services, health care and high tech.
"Its important to know what the relations are between people," said Raffel. "You want to know who somebodys best friend is, whos golfing buddies, fellow alumni of the same school. What contact networking lets you do is track those relationships."
Other features in this release include group calendaring and delegated task management. While Siebel CRM OnDemand will continue to synch calendaring and tasks with Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes e-mail clients, Raffel said these features are intended for customers who dont want to use their e-mail client but work within Siebels product for calendaring and tasks.
There is also a new segmentation wizard for managing and tracking the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
"Its multidimensional segmentation," Raffel said. "It gets the right marketing message to the right people. The targets can be within CRM OnDemand and from outside databases."
In addition, this release contains performance improvements that have increased response times by 15 to 25 percent, according to Raffel.