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Siebel, J.D. Edwards in exclusive pact

J.D. Edwards is making a move into the front-office space with a new, and for now exclusive, agreement to resell Siebel Systems' sales applications.

J.D. Edwards is making a move into the front-office space with a new, and for now exclusive, agreement to resell Siebel Systems' sales applications.

J.D. Edwards said it picked Siebel as its front-office partner because the company is a market leader, has an international presence, and has Web-based technology that complements J.D. Edwards' core enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, OneWorld.

Siebel makes software that automates a customer's sales, marketing, and customer service departments. J.D. Edwards makes software that manages a company's financials, human resources, and manufacturing needs.

"It is our intention to make the Siebel relationship as successful as possible," said Jim Godsey, director of product alliances at J.D. Edwards. "At this time, we're not pursuing other partners in this space."

J.D. Edwards will start selling Siebel products to its customers immediately, but will not offer integration with OneWorld until October 1, the company said. The company will resell both Siebel Sales Enterprise and Siebel Sales for Workgroups.

The deal with J.D. Edwards could be a sign that Siebel is testing the waters for possibly acquiring an ERP firm, said Steve Bonadio, analyst at Hurwitz Group, a Framingham, Massachusetts-based consultancy.

"It looks to me that this would be the first step in that direction," he said, noting Siebel's recent hiring of former SAP executives Jeremy Coote and Paul Wahl as further evidence of the firm's interest in making a possible long-term move in the ERP market.

Peggy Menconi, analyst at AMR Research, agreed that Siebel needs to make a move in the back office to broaden its clout, as ERP giants such as SAP encroach on Siebel's territory.

"Until they do something serious with a back office strategy they're going to be a front-office niche (player)," she said.

However, in an interview earlier this week with CNET News.com, Siebel chief executive Tom Siebel said the company had no intention of acquiring an ERP firm.

Prior to this new partnership with Siebel, J.D. Edwards had one piece of the front office picture--a customer service management application it developed last fall. The new relationship with Siebel isn't expected to prevent the company from continuing to build its own applications or keep it from allying with other customer management software partners in the future, the company said.

But if Siebel's front office applications can be tightly integrated with OneWorld, J.D. Edwards may be spared the exhaustive process of building more of their own, Menconi said.

Siebel Sales Enterprise features include opportunity tracking, account and contract management, and marketing campaign management, with typical add-ons including a sales encyclopedia or remote user features.

The workgroup product is a pre-configured server targeted for customers with 100 or fewer users who want to share sales information.

In the front office space, J.D. Edwards is working to catch up with rivals including Oracle and Baan.

Baan bought front-office vendor Aurum in 1997, and Oracle recently began shipping the first pieces of its new suite of Web-based front office products. PeopleSoft also has front-office alliances with Siebel as well as Vantive, but lacks its own front-office suite.