Siebel touts hosted CRM in Aust

Siebel Systems has launched its hosted CRM service, CRM OnDemand, in Australia with the claim that its analytical tools, monthly contracts and choice of stand alone or hybrid deployments differentiate it from rivals such as SalesForce.com and SAP.

Siebel Systems has launched its hosted CRM service, CRM OnDemand, in Australia with the claim that its analytical tools, monthly contracts and choice of stand alone or hybrid deployments differentiate it from rivals such as SalesForce.com and SAP.

Developed and sold jointly with IBM, the service has secured 1300 customers globally since its launch in December 2003.

In addition to one, two and three year contracts, the companies are offering the service on a month by month basis, at a cost of AU$120 per user per month. The Australian version, which coincides with the launch of the service in Singapore and Hong Kong, includes "Australianised" features such as automatic address and phone number formatting and local currency. It is hosted out of the US but the company will offer 24 X 7 support.

The companies said they are hoping clients in need of CRM applications would rather access applications online than by going through the lengthy process of licensing and deployment. Siebel is also offering its customer hybrid deployments of the service - the chance to mix on-premise CRM with hosted CRM.

"At the outset we targeted this product at small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) but have found it has been just as compelling for high end clients," said Rob McGregor, Siebel's country manager, Australia and New Zealand. "Customers are demanding integration with the other applications such as their ERP, personnel and credit control systems, for example, which we can offer them," he added.

Vertical industry-specific versions for the insurance, high tech, automotive and life science sectors will be introduced during the second half of this year, with finance, communications and media, manufacturing and consumer goods packages following in the first half of 2005. In total, the company said it plans to launch 23 separate vertical market.

Gartner has gone on record to say that the industry-specific editions of CRM OnDemand are likely to pose a serious threat to the SMB CRM offerings from firms such as SalesForce.com, and may convince larger companies to switch to a hosted model.

Rob Reiner, product marketing director, Siebel CRM OnDemand, claimed CRM OnDemand's main differentiator is the introduction of hosted analytics. "Trends can be accessed without having to go to a separate reporting area every week or month," he said.

Telstra's subsidiary Sensis, which incorporates brands such as Yellow Pages, CitySearch and White Pages, is one of the first Australian clients to trial the service, which Reiner says can takes less than two weeks to deploy.

Figures from research firm Frost & Sullivan predict that the hosted CRM market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 75 percent between 2004 and 2007, with the hosted sector accounting for AU$35.1 million annual revenues, or 27 percent of the overall market, compared to AU$6.5 million, or 7 percent, in 2004.