The software as a service model (SaaS), where applications are hosted online and delivered to users through a web browser, is changing the face of corporate computing. But at one Auckland company the model is allowing the unthinkable: the integration of top-end CRM system Siebel, now owned by Oracle, with the ubiquitous small- and micro-business financial software package MYOB.
Henry Cassin, managing director of Providence Marketing, a whiteware distributor, says that is the next stage of his company’s SaaS adoption programme, which has already seen manual customer service systems and Excel spreadsheets replaced by Oracle’s Siebel CRM on Demand offering.
Cassin says Providence, which has a total staff of seven and customer service staff of just two, operates in a competitive market and is growing fast — 100% in the past year with a further doubling, to around $20 million in turnover, expected in the next. That growth, Cassin says, is based on the company’s alliances with successful retailers such as Mitre 10, Bond & Bond and and Noel Leeming.
To support high growth and at the same time to contain customer service costs, Providence embarked on a campaign to automate and improve service, mainly after-sales service.
Three months ago, service staff operated off Excel spreadsheets and the average service call time was 15 minutes. The aim of the SaaS project was to reduce call-time to just three minutes per service call.
“We wanted to reduce that and get better reports,” Cassin says. “We looked at quite a few software packages over six or seven months.”
However, Cassin says Providence did not look at the 800lb gorilla of the SaaS CRM space, Salesforce.com. He says Providence looked at other businesses in its sector for a lead on which way to go. The tip to look at Siebel came through whiteware manufacturer Fisher & Paykel.
Providence’s implementation partner was Asparona. When they became involved a custom development project was being considered, but Asparona saw on-demand as a better solution for the company’s budget of just $24,000. The Siebel system can be customised by users and not a lot of training was required.
In the end the project cost around $20,000 with ongoing costs for two users of just $200 a month.
The process of preparing and importing data from the old Excel spreadsheets allowed data cleansing to be undertaken. The most difficult part of the project was the creation of a formatted job sheet.
Providence’s system now links queries to a common complaints database, guides the telephone operator through problem diagnosis and links to a database of whiteware parts that need to be shipped to service agents to get work completed within a targeted 24-hours.
In all the project was up and running in just three weeks and the company has been using the system now for two months. However, it is the next phase of the development that will make this project unusual. The Siebel system is to be integrated with MYOB accounting using web services APIs. Also planned for future development is allowing service agents to have access to the system.
Providence is using release 14 of Siebel CRM on Demand which Oracle’s Asia-Pacific VP of CRM, Will Bosma, launched in Auckland last week.
Bosma says Oracle is seeing its SaaS efforts building and the model moving from being embraced by small- and medium-sized organisations into corporate organisations, especially in pockets and business units not the in-house CRM system.
Bosma quoted Gartner figures estimating annual APAC CRM growth through 2011 at up to 18% while in the SaaS segment growth was up to 25%.