Siebel to boost product usability, affordability

Faced with declining revenues, customer relationship management software maker Siebel Systems Inc. is moving to woo customers with a new strategy to deliver its applications rapidly through an enterprise while cutting down on the overall cost of ownership.

To that end, at its Siebel User Week in San Diego, the company announced a new approach -- dubbed "CRM for Everyone" -- as well as a number of upcoming product enhancements. The announcements follow last week's news that Siebel would deliver its applications via a hosted model.

During a keynote speech on Tuesday, Chief Executive Officer Tom Siebel outlined some of the company's initiatives, explaining that the hosted applications would be offered through 13 centers and jointly supported by Siebel and its partner IBM. As the number of companies outsourcing IT and other customer support operations to offshore sites such as India grows, more firms are challenged to make sure the data and processes offer a consistent experience.

To make that possible, Siebel said the next revision of the company's software, Version 7.7, will offer a variety of enhancements, including sales, partner relationship management and order management capabilities. The main thinking behind the rollout, Siebel said, is lowering total cost of ownership and "to get us where we need to go." He said it would offer companies an estimated 39 percent reduction in costs.

Enhancements include installation, configuration and testing improvements. The company also plans to continue to try to make it easier to integrate Siebel applications with other vendors' products using Universal Application Network architecture.

Siebel 7.7 will also offer a new financial services console that users in branch offices of banks can use to rapidly get information about a customer at their desktops. Also coming is a customer loyalty application that will help companies identify their most potentially profitable clients and optimize the delivery of rewards and service offerings to them. To simplify things for users and push them to use the products more quickly, Siebel 7.7 will come with a new role-based interface with guided navigation.

The company also announced that before year's end it would ship Siebel Analytics 7.7, which will come with full Web services support, as well as integrated data mining and predictive analytics support.

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