New Hosted CRM Provider Looks to Undercut Competition

Entellium hopes its cut-rate prices will allow it to compete in a crowded hosted CRM market.

A new hosted CRM service provider will face an uphill battle to gain market traction despite boasting new functionality at a lower price point than the competition.

Entellium Ltd., a Malaysian firm, announced its formal North American launch Tuesday, seeking to tap into the red-hot market for hosted sales, marketing and customer service applications, primarily targeted to small and midsized businsesses and departments of larger organizations. Inc., with 9,500 customers and 140,000 users, leads the hosted space, which Siebel Systems Inc., the overall CRM market leader, has recently entered.

Now along comes Entellium, with just 100 customers and 3,000 users, mostly in the Asia Pacific region. But the company has moved its headquarters to Seattle to reach the North American market. It will keep its development in Malaysia, allowing it to charge just $59 per user per month for its service. Customers will also be able to license individual modules, such as sales, customer service or marketing, for $45 per user per month. Salesforce.coms top level of service, Enterprise Edition, costs $120 per user per month. Siebel charges $70 per user per month for its Siebel CRM OnDemand service, a price point company officials acknowledge is designed to garner market share, not profits.

Entellium does not require customers to sign a contract for a predetermined number of seats, so customers only end up paying for the number of seats they actually use, officials said. The company also delivers an executive information portal, with drill-down capabilities but no data entry, for $9.95 a month. This is designed to allow managers and executives to monitor employee performance and customer accounts without paying the full per seat fee, Entellium officials said.

Officials also boast that Entellium has advanced workflow capabilities to handle things like report distribution and customer and lead routing, plus voice access to the service and a multi-tiered architecture to support channel management.

"We represent the third generation of ASPs," said Entellium President and CEO Paul Johnston. "We offer smarter technology at different business models and pricing models."

An early adopter in North America, Canadian telecommunications company Telus Corp. is using Entelliums service to manage its dealer channel and is also reselling the service to its channel partners for their own use, according to Gord Simpson, director of Telus Complimentary Channels, in Toronto.

"We wanted something flexible, accessible from anywhere to multiple people through a Web portal," said Simpson.

Forrester Research Inc. analyst Erin Kinikin was skeptical of how much success Entellium would have in the hosted CRM market, while acknowledging the company was bringing some new features—particularly in workflow and the voice interface—and a cut-rate pricing model to bear.

"Entellium is primarily positioning like a cheaper, more channel-centric—not sustainable positioning in an increasingly crowded market," Kinikin said in Santa Clara, Calif.

Kinikin said Entellium could however play a "spoiler role" in the space.

"At $59 a month including the voice interface—and with good margins for resellers—Entellium definitely gives buyers more choices at an affordable price," she said. "But there has to be a consolidation at some point. These hosted companies cant afford to maintain huge hosting infrastructures for small client bases."

The other players in the space arent standing pat. is announcing this week separate partnerships with Nextel Communications Inc. and Vettro Corp., and with Sendia Corp., that further extend the companys hosted CRM services to wireless devices. And Siebel announced Monday eight new vertical industry-specific editions of its CRM OnDemand service.

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