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Vantive wins Scopus call center users

As the battle for the front office heats up, Vantive announces that CCC Information Services is dumping its Scopus call center software in favor of Vantive's.

Oracle is not the only vendor trying to snatch Siebel System's customers.

As the battle for the front office heats up, Vantive today went on the offensive, announcing that CCC Information Services, which connects more than 350 insurance companies to about 13,500 collision repair facilities, is dumping its Scopus call center software in favor of Vantive's.

But Phillip Dunkelberger, Vantive's newly appointed chief operating officer, downplayed competition with Scopus, noting that the company has revisited its customers since the Siebel deal and found the majority of them are committed to their implementations or have invested too much time and money to switch.

"We've had some wins, but it's not a major 'Let's go after the Scopus base,'" Dunkelberger said.

When Siebel bought Scopus last year it promised Scopus customers a quick migration path to Siebel's products. Siebel makes sales force and marketing management software, while Scopus makes call center and field service management applications.

"Most of the Scopus people said, 'We just put this in. We're not going to take it out for anyone until we need to get something new.' You just don't trade this stuff out that easily," Dunkelberger said.

However, some customers who are searching for higher-level scalability within a large call center and aren't committed to a large sales force automation project are taking a second look at Vantive, according to Dunkelberger. "That's where we're getting a lot of calls back," he said. "An SFA system was not designed to handle a huge call center."

Other front office vendors have been openly courting some of the approximately 250 Scopus customers who must now use what Siebel provides them.

Oracle, for one, last month rolled out a new program the company said was aimed in part at disgruntled Siebel clients. The plan allowed Scopus customers to upgrade to Oracle Front Office Version 3 at a 50-percent discount on the license. The company said it did so because Siebel failed to make good on promises to migrate customers from Scopus to Siebel.

Though analysts said the company was a tad late, Siebel last month released Siebel 99, the latest version of its front office application package. It is the first version of the software that fully integrates sales force automation and marketing management with Scopus' field service and call center software.

Despite the efforts of Siebel's rivals in the hotly competitive front office market, Siebel has lost relatively few customers, said Harry Tse, analyst at Boston-based Yankee Group.

"No more than a dozen have jumped [to other vendors]," he said. "In the true scheme of things that's not a high turnover rate."

However, Tse said as the cost of front office implementations has dropped and the profit margins have shrunk, customer courting has intensified.

Peggy Menconi, analyst at Boston-based AMR Research, said Siebel is "driving farther and farther ahead of its rivals," while Oracle has remained quiet about the success of its program targeting Siebel's Scopus-using customers. Meanwhile, Vantive, which stumbled when taking on Siebel in the sales arena, is now focusing on its core call center business, she said.

"It's not too surprising that they'd want to take an aggressive stand there," Menconi said.