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SAP sneaking up on Siebel in Asia

A new study says the software maker is narrowing the gap in its race to be the largest CRM software vendor in the Asia-Pacific region.

SINGAPORE--Software maker SAP is narrowing the gap in its race against Siebel Systems to be the largest customer relationship management (CRM) software vendor in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a research study.

After a weak year in 2000, the German firm has since sidelined many seasoned players, including Peoplesoft and Oracle, to grab 18.6 percent market share, according to the study by IT research firm Frost & Sullivan.

Last year, Siebel led the field with 33.4 percent share of the Asia-Pacific's $254 million CRM market, according to Moaiyad Taher Hoosenally, industry manager for enterprise communications at Frost & Sullivan. He attributed SAP's gains to its success in cross-selling to existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) customers.

In Asia-Pacific, SAP's customers include San Miguel and Unilever in the Philippines, FAW-Volkswagen in China, Jones Lang LaSalle in Australia, and Hankuk Glass Industries in Korea.

Siebel downplayed the report. "I don't feel threatened. We are the leader and we have proven our success," said Terence Chan, Siebel's managing director for South Asia.

In 2001, Siebel scored major wins with the Development Bank of Singapore, Virgin Mobile in Singapore, Malaysian National Insurance and Advanced Info Systems in Thailand.

Chan said Siebel is the top CRM provider among traditional SAP customers, citing examples such as Deutsche Telekom, Telstra, National Australia Bank, Guinness Anchor Breweries and Singapore Telecommunications. He noted that over 380 SAP customers worldwide are running Siebel CRM applications.

A similar claim--which appeared in Siebel's advertising campaign in Europe--landed the company in court late April. A German district court ruled in favor of SAP, ordering a halt to the ads.

In response to Chan's claims, SAP Asia Director of CRM Satyavrath Krishnaswamy merely said the company has more than 1,500 CRM clients globally.

SAP booked $412 million in CRM software sales worldwide in 2001, compared with Siebel's $2.05 billion.

In a June report, BNP Paribas said it would be difficult for SAP to overtake Siebel.

"Siebel has established a very strong lead, underpinned by its highly aggressive marketing and branding strategy; the company's name has become virtually synonymous with CRM. Siebel has also penetrated SAP's installed base very effectively, selling an estimated $1 billion in licenses to SAP customers," the report said.

CNETAsia's Irene Tham reported from Singapore.