Siebel releases hosted verticals, eyes Salesforce.com

With the release of its long-awaited vertical editions of OnDemand, Siebel is taking aim squarely at Salesforce.com.

One month after announcing its plans to tackle the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market , Siebel Systems Inc. has released it long-promised vertical editions of Siebel OnDemand.

With the release, the San Mateo, Calif.-based company said it is taking aim at its neighbor to the north in San Francisco -- Salesforce.com.

Behind its four new vertical editions -- wealth management/insurance, high tech, medical and automotive -- Siebel will continue to challenge Salesforce.com for leadership of the hosted CRM market, said Bruce Cleveland, senior vice president and general manager for OnDemand and SMB.

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"In the course of a year, we have gone from having no product to compete with hosted providers like Salesforce.com to one we think is pretty competitive," he said.

According to Cleveland, Siebel's win rates against Salesforce.com -- when the two companies go head-to-head for customers -- have gone from 5% last year to more than 40% now.

"Salesforce.com is still the leader," said Sheryl Kingstone, CRM program manager with the Boston-based Yankee Group. "I know Bruce Cleveland likes to talk about SMBs, but this is really geared toward the larger end of that market."

This is Siebel's sixth release of OnDemand and features new functionality in addition to the vertical editions. The new features include integration with Microsoft Word and reporting and analysis within Microsoft Excel, customization features that allow users to change fields and tabs, territory management and a sales process coach that helps customers define their workflow.

Support for multiple methodologies and the robust territory management appeal to the larger end of the SMB and midmarket, Kingstone said.

"Where I like this product going is they're really adding functionality toward the larger clients," she said. "They're taking the SMB market seriously, too, with more ecosystems and resellers, and that's why Bruce Cleveland is saying they're taking on Salesforce.com. Meanwhile, Salesforce.com is building out their suite to take on the larger customers."

One larger customer is Cendant Corp., a hotel and travel company based in New York, which has 700 users and has been using version 6 for about a month. It is particularly pleased with the analytical capabilities and the visibility into customer records, said sales manager Nigel Watson.

Siebel's OnDemand 6 is immediately available in American and British English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Korean and Portuguese. It sells in the Americas for $70 per user per month. The industry specific versions are priced at $100 per user per month.

The verticals are arriving a month behind schedule and in different industries than first announced in May. Siebel initially said it would offer insurance, high tech, automobile and communications and media editions. Cleveland said the delay was to incorporate additional functionality.

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