Siebel Shoots for Hosted Users
Siebel Systems Inc., in its latest move to attract a broader customer base, plans to enhance its fledgling Siebel CRM OnDemand hosted services with technology it is acquiring with customer relationship management application service provider UpShot Corp.
Siebel plans to merge the Mountain View, Calif., company, which it is purchasing for $70 million, with its own forthcoming hosted offering by the second quarter of next year. The merger of the two technologies figures to change the face of both and gives the CRM market leader a more complete hosted offering for small businesses and departments at large organizations.
The deal is expected to close next month, less than two months after the company unveiled Siebel CRM OnDemand, its joint offering with IBM.
UpShots offline client is chief among the technologies Siebel intends to migrate to Siebel CRM OnDemand. The client, which is based on Microsoft Corp.s Excel software, will be a second offline option along with Siebels own offline client, according to Ken Rudin, vice president and general manager of Siebel CRM OnDemand.
Siebel also plans to add certain UpShot Web services APIstypically used to support integration with other applicationsas well as performance management technologies for monitoring and maintaining the quality of the service.
"Behind the scenes, [UpShot] has some very sophisticated management processes in place for maintaining and monitoring the application hosting that we plan to take advantage of," Rudin said. "Theyre processes that make sure the service is rock-solid."
When the combined service, which Rudin called a "superset" of Siebel and UpShot technologies, is ready, UpShots current 1,000-plus customers will be automatically updated to the new service, if they so choose. Siebel will gauge UpShot customer interest before committing to continuing the current UpShot service, Rudin said.
Pricing for the combined service has not been determined.
"I would expect that in the future, we may provide different tiers for different customers," Rudin said. "We could offer everything at $70 a month, everything at $80, or a $70 version and a $90 version."
Current UpShot customers do not seem worried about a change for the worse in their service, while cautioning that they dont want to deal with radical changes in the service, either.
"As long as they support us, I dont really give a damn who owns them," said Christine Bautel, sales manager of Intellon Corp., in Ocala, Fla. "But weve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into getting [UpShot] set up the way we want it, and we do not want that to change."
At the same time, Bautel said improvements need to be made to the UpShot service, particularly in the forecasting tool, which doesnt conform to the business processes Intellon uses.
"There are a few issues with [UpShot], but overall it blows the hell out of [CRM competitors such as Best Software Inc.s] SalesLogix and [FrontRange Solutions Inc.s] GoldMine," Bautel said.
Marc Sunday, senior vice president of Siebels OnDemand product line, will continue to oversee the San Mateo, Calif., companys hosted service once it is merged with UpShot. Robert Reid, president and CEO of UpShot, is expected to run Siebels hosted CRM service business.
UpShots founder and chairman, Keith Raffel, who will join Siebel as a vice president and work on the Siebel CRM OnDemand team, said most of the changes in UpShot will be on the back end and be transparent to users.
"Will our customers see something different? Undoubtedly they will," Raffel said. "Well have something that takes the best of both sides. ... Itll look like a new release, which is what we do all the time."
UpShot user Cheryl Miamidian, regional vice president at M Squared Inc., in San Francisco, seemed unconcerned about the Siebel deal.
"So far, we have a great relationship with UpShot; we dont foresee it changing," Miamidian said. "As far as were concerned, its business as usual until its not."