Siebel acquired the privately held Edocs of Natick, Mass., for $115 million in cash to strengthen its offerings in the field of e-billing and online customer self-service, said Dan Ford, vice president and general manager at Siebel, based in San Mateo, Calif.
Siebel plans to integrate Edocs self-service, online service and e-billing applications with its own CRM (customer relationship management) and business intelligence applications, Ford said.
The Edocs applications allow enterprises to reduce paper billing systems and call-center channels by shifting to online billing, payment, and customer service applications.
Over the past few years, Edocs has developed "very sophisticated self-service and customer service" applications that are beyond anything that major CRM competitors such as Oracle and Salesforce currently have, said Allen Bonde, principal with the Allen Bonde Group, a software industry research firm in Framingham, Mass.
"Oracle might have bits and pieces, but they dont have anything like the integrated application that Edocs has," Bonde said.
With its recently announced Supportforce service, Salesforce.com its getting more into the online customer service market, but thats "still pretty immature right now," Bonde said.
Also, for a small company with only 180 employees, Edocs has an impressive array of enterprise-class customers, including Cingular Wireless LLC, British Telecom, Target Corp. and GE Consumer Finance Corp., Bonde said.
"They have very good consulting capability for a relatively small company," Bonde said. "Edocs has a good technology base, but they are also very good at delivering services," he said. This allows them to do the kind of custom development work that large enterprises expect, he said.
The buyout makes sense for Edocs because customer-service applications, such as its own, have lengthy sales cycles, which can be difficult for smaller companies to managed. Furthermore, Edocs didnt have the access to sales channels and integrator relationships that Siebel has, Bonde said.