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Siebel hosts the contact center

Barney Beal, News Editor

Siebel Systems Inc. continued its march toward fully hosted CRM suite functionality Monday with the release of Siebel Contact OnDemand 7.

The latest upgrade to the application features integration between the Siebel system and the contact center technology it acquired from Ineto Services a year ago.

"When we acquired Ineto, we delivered a second generation technology," said Bruce Cleveland, senior vice president and general manager of OnDemand and SMB. "That was two separate applications integrated. This is third generation; it is actually one application pre-integrated against one database, giving you all the benefits of a contact center."

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Contact OnDemand is fully integrated with Siebel OnDemand, its hosted sales force automation (SFA) tool. Hosted CRM is steadily moving past its SFA roots. Salesforce.com has added its Supportforce tool, RightNow Technologies Inc. has branched out from customer service into SFA and NetSuite Inc. provides back-office tools and has added e-commerce.

Contact OnDemand provides computer telephony integration, interactive voice response and automatic call distribution in a hosted environment. In the last six months, Siebel has taken aim at San Francisco's Salesforce.com in its marketing message. On Monday, Cleveland again took a swipe at his rival, noting that Siebel's integrations are all prebuilt, while Salesforce.com asks companies to do the integration work themselves.

"This has all the elements you would expect in a full, world-class contact center app," Cleveland said. "Perhaps most importantly, it has full analytics pre-integrated."

That's the key difference in the products, said Sheryl Kingstone, CRM program manager with Boston-based Yankee Group. Salesforce.com has partners and customers providing integrations.

"Prebuilt reporting and analytics are also something you have take a look at," Kingstone said. "With just a little bit of time, someone with Salesforce.com can build that themselves. But if someone is a small business today, it's very easy to just turn on the switch."

Yet Siebel is not just targeting the small and midsized business market with Contact OnDemand. It also provides an option for large companies that need to get a contact center up and running quickly, whether in a satellite office or from a new acquisition.

Ingersoll-Rand Co. Ltd., a tool and machinery, climate control and industrial equipment manufacturer in Bermuda, has deployed Contact OnDemand. The company has $9 billion in revenue and regularly acquires and divests smaller firms. The hosted option allowed Ingersoll-Rand to get its myriad of contact centers connected quickly.

"For us it was a matter of dealing with equipment we had today while bringing in newer technology at a low cost," said Chris Norman, senior project manager. "It's all about time to market, how fast we can respond to these types of situations and having a single source provider from a CRM standpoint."

Contact OnDemand is immediately available in North America. Pricing starts at $150 per user per month, bundled with CRM OnDemand. It is also available as a standalone offering that can integrate with other hosted or on-premise CRM applications at a price of $100 per user per month. Additional telephony charges based on usage apply.


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