Enterprises looking to embrace or extend into hosted customer relationship management services will see updates from upstart market leader Salesforce.com Inc. and down-but-not-out colossus Siebel Systems Inc. as the pair adds functionality typically reserved for licensed software suites to their respective hosted services.
Salesforce.com will announce this week its Summer 05 release; Siebel announced last week Release 8 of its Siebel CRM OnDemand service. Salesforce.coms Summer 05 release includes 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.
The Summer 05 release also touts a range of improved customization capabilities, long considered a weakness in multitenanted hosted application services, including customizable forecasting, custom formula fields and report calculations, and a customized customer self-service portal.
Lisa Greene, chief financial officer for ITA Inc., which deployed Salesforce.com earlier this month, said the customization capabilities in the hosted service match what licensed applications offer.
"We can set up our own workflow triggers customizable to what we want," said Greene, in Cincinnati. "Its bottom-line savings; we dont have to have someone e-mailing someone else. It is kind of bridging the gap [to licensed software]."
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 Inc.—have built their businesses around. Other features in this release include group calendaring and delegated task management.