Research: Oracle outpacing Siebel in CRM interest

In the latest research from independent demand measurement firm Techtel Corporation, Oracle is outpacing Siebel on Techtel's Brand Strength Index (BSI). The BSI, which measures awareness, positive opinion and purchase consideration among companies currently evaluating CRM software, shows that purchasing consideration for Oracle is twice that of Siebel among mid-market companies.

Among large companies, awareness of Oracle's CRM applications is 50% higher than Siebel's, according to Michael Kelly, president of Techtel. "Oracle this quarter came up with a big chunk in those three areas," he said, referring to brand awareness, positive opinion and purchase consideration.

"The increase in awareness wasn't spectacular. It was already higher than Siebel," Kelly said. The real increase was in positive opinion and purchase consideration of Oracle in mid-market and large companies for their CRM needs, he said.

"Both Siebel and Oracle have successfully targeted the mid-market with their solutions, though Oracle does has some significant figures in terms of their own sales to this sector," said Tracy Thorne, CRM analyst at Hurwitz Group. "Seventy percent of sales for the Oracle Business Suite in the last few years have been in the mid-market, and they won over 500 new mid market accounts in 2000," she added.

Research from Forrester Research, Inc. indicates that Oracle is set to outperform other vendors. "Although no one can downplay the results of Siebel... all-integrated vendors like SAP and Oracle will catch up by offering solid functionality," wrote Charles Homs, an analyst with Forrester Research B.V., in the report "Oracle Set to Outperform Competition."

Oracle is the only software vendor capable of tuning its enterprise application to its database, Forrester said. This allows it to outperform other database vendors in transaction throughput. And as transaction volume begins to overflow companies' existing databases, Oracle will be able to supply the environment for companies to analyze e-business trends, according to Forrester.

According to Kelly, Oracle's online service, OracleSalesOnline.com, was responsible for the increase on the BSI. "That online solution...just seemed to resonate with the market. They put out quite a bit of marketing communication," he said.

"Their success has really been solidified in their sales strategy, a Trojan horse strategy," Hurwitz's Thorne said. "For example, by offering Business.oracle.com as a free application via the Internet, they have been able to show substantial adoption in a mere 6 months and paved the road for businesses to grow with them in their purchase of additional applications, functionality and service levels," she added.

The first quarter of 2000 brought awareness, but the hard part was obtaining positive opinions. In the fourth quarter, Oracle received both of those, which led to raised brand strength of Oracle in the CRM market, Kelly added.

There has also been good news for the CRM market, according to Kelly. "Despite the industry perception that the CRM category is going gangbusters, in the past year or so, it's been a mild uptrend," he said. "However, it has been these last two quarters we've started seeing signs that it's going to take off."

Techtel surveys buyers and those influential in the purchase of technology at IT and non-IT companies quarterly. The company surveyed 249 buyers in companies of up to 4,999 employees and 135 companies with 5,000 or more employees.

According to Kelly, Techtel also classifies companies as late or early buyers of technology, with 15% being early adopters willing to try something new. The "late adopters" are waiting to see what the early adopters go with CRM, Kelly said, and late adopters are beginning to show signs of adopting CRM technology.

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