Siebel is to launch additional versions of its Siebel 7 customer relationship management (CRM) suite tailored for specific industries, but some analysts are worried that more specialised options could undermine the usefulness of CRM systems.
Siebel 7, a suite of packaged applications for CRM launched last month, is to incorporate seven more versions for vertical markets, bringing the total to 20. The new versions will be tailor-made to match the business processes of specific industries by incorporating best practices and existing functionality, and will cover the media, chemical, retail, oil and gas, travel and transport industries.
But Neil Robertson, chief executive of CRM consultancy 30/30 Vision, said there is a danger that solutions that are too industry-specific could act as a straitjacket rather than boosting business performance. "While it sounds a great idea, not all business within an industry has the same processes and terminology," he said. "(CRM) can also require a huge amount of data entry."
Many experts advise firms to take a more modular approach to CRM implementation rather than rolling out complete systems in one project. "If you look realistically at what benefits can be derived by CRM, and implement a solution piece by piece at low cost with small disruption to the existing business, while ensuring the system is actually being used, you will be in a far better position," Robertson argued.
But Anna Jones, a vice president at CRM consultancy Akibia, said Siebel was redefining the sector by building on its knowledge of specific industries. "There will be more opportunity to match business requirements to technological solutions," she said. "If customers can see applications tailored to their industries, it will be easier for them to understand whether they fit or not."