Siebel VP and GM for OnDemand and SMB (small/medium business) Bruce Cleveland has put a stake in the ground of sorts. Though he doesn't mention any competitor by' name, Cleveland circulated a letter to the press this week that left me with the impression that, after hibernating for the winter, he's now emerging from some bunker under Siebel's headquarters, ready to take on Salesforce.com with a vengeance. The letter talks about how Cleveland rejoined Siebel last summer and how, in the spirit of utility computing, he will make himself available for comment on demand. He also says that he'll be reaching out to his recipient list on a regular basis with updates (Hey Bruce, if you really want to go on-demand, perhaps you should think about blogging or wiki-ing instead of e-mailing). An un-edited copy of the letter appears below. Meanwhile, in other news on the On-Demand Customer Relationship Management front, InfoWorld has a report (see As Salesforce.com grows, analysts probe ROI) that says "Analysts are stepping up their warnings to customers that hosted applications can carry steep costs over the long run, especially for larger organizations. Research firm Gartner estimates that after three years, the cost for complex organizations of running Salesforce.com will surpass that of traditional, packaged CRM." Gartner isn't alone in the way its downplaying the strategic value of on demand CRM systems. Over on ZDNet's Datapoint, Chris Jablonski has the details on a study from Nucleus Research that reaches similar findings. Here's Cleveland's letter:
From: OnDemand - Bruce Cleveland
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2005 4:26 PM
To: OnDemand - Bruce Cleveland
Subject: Siebel Is Here For You "On-Demand"
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Since I returned to Siebel Systems last summer to lead the OnDemand and SMB business units, I've seen interest in on-demand CRM continue to build.
Companies of all types -- from 5-person start-ups to multi-billion dollar enterprises -- are finding value in a deployment option that allows them to hit the ground running without an up-front investment in hardware or software.
As interest in this market continues to heat up, I expect you and your readers will have a lot of questions. I want to let you know that I am available as a resource for you and that we are eager to talk with you about Siebel Systems' vision, our offering, and how we are helping our customers overcome the challenges they face in their businesses every day.
I'm making a personal commitment to you that when you are writing a story, I will make every effort to be available to comment and to provide the information you need. That is, I will make myself available to speak with you "on demand."
Additionally, I'll be contacting you from time to time to share some of my thoughts on the on-demand CRM market. This month, I wanted to be sure you had seen a few recent analyst reports that support the value that Siebel's verticalized, integrated approach provides customers. Note in particular the Gartner report on the hidden costs of a product that puts the onus of customization on customers.
I hope this information is useful to you and to your readers. If you would like to be removed from this list, please let me know at any point in time. Otherwise, I look forward to keeping in touch.
Now that Salesforce.com is public, the company's CEO Marc Benioff has buttoned up his regular rhetoric. Will Cleveland's stake in the ground draw him out?