CHICAGO -- Employee Relationship Management will be the hottest enterprise software application in the next decade, predicted Siebel Systems Chairman and CEO Tom Siebel.
Siebel spent much of his nearly two-hour Siebel Worldwide User Week keynote address here extolling the virtues of ERM and showing off the companys ERM offering, which it spent two years building and which will be integrated into its next-generation Siebel 7 suite.
"We [Siebel] could not manage our business without this [Siebel ERM] today," CEO Siebel told the estimated 2,500 conference attendees. "Small, medium and large organizations need to be able to manage human capital."
Just as companies could not operate competitively without Customer Relationship Management (CRM) during the past decade, Siebel noted, they wouldnt be able to run their businesses effectively in the coming 10 years without ERM.
Siebel isnt the only CRM vendor to expand into the ERM space. Enterprise software vendor PeopleSoft also provides ERM capabilities with automation modules ranging from human resources to marketing and management as part of its suite of products.
Siebel and other company executives talked up other new features of Siebel 7, which is due to ship commercially before years end. The company spent 12 to 14 months developing Version 7, which is currently being tested by 120 customers, who were among the 500 total beta testers for the product.
Besides ERM modules, new Siebel 7 features include support of "zero footprint" Web-based clients for easier and faster installation; a native Siebel PalmOS port; 60 functionality modules; seven solution offerings targeted at specific vertical markets; and an "Analytics Anywhere" capability, which is based on technology the company obtained through its Oct. 1 acquisition of vendor nQuire Software.
Siebel 7 will offer 20 vertical-industry packages, which are crucial to Siebel, because 75 percent of its revenues are attributable to sales of these solutions. Siebel is a $2.5 billion company with 8,000 employees and 200 million users, according to company estimates.
Whatever It Takes
Besides showing off Siebels own implementation of its ERM offering, the CEO also offered his opinions on topics ranging from the corporate response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. to core company values.
Feeling that the country and the industry are "going to face a tougher year than we know," Siebel said employees raised $5 million in three days for the American Red Cross and Salvation Army. Siebels corporate response to the attacks: fight back by rededicating itself to its goal of 100 percent customer satisfaction, he said.
"We will do absolutely anything it takes to be successful with customers," CEO Siebel reiterated during his presentation.
Siebel told attendees that the company has a handful of tangible goals for the coming year, including improving customer satisfaction; reducing the number of Siebel employees with whom customers need to interact; continuing to expand industry-specific vertical packages, especially in the e-government space; and becoming an ERM leader.
"Despite what the economy does, we plan to continue to operate a cash-positive, profitable business," CEO Siebel said.
That will be a challenge, given the recent doom-and-gloom predictions on the impact of the Sept. 11 attacks on already declining enterprise software sales. JP Morgan recently lowered its rating for Siebel, based on the assumption that 60 percent of the companys estimated license revenues were dependent on the close of September, and of that at least 30 percent to 40 percent will now slip.
Mary Jo Foley is a senior writer with Baseline Magazine.