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Applications

Siebel expands compatibility tools

The new tools are part of an initiative to make its CRM applications cheaper to install and maintain.

Siebel Systems has released a new version of its software compatibility tool set as part of an initiative to make its customer relationship management applications cheaper to install and maintain.

The San Mateo, Calif., company plans to announce the updated product, called Siebel Universal Application Network (UAN) 2.0, on Tuesday, according to Nimish Mehta, a group vice president. The product is comprised of 100 separate applications, each designed to link Siebel's vast set of sales, customer service and marketing programs with billing, inventory and other so-called back office programs. The first version of the product had about half the number of applications.

Since Siebel introduced UAN in November, just 20 of more than 3,500 customers have used the tools, Mehta said.

The UAN applications run on top of server software from BEA Systems, IBM, Microsoft, SeeBeyond, Tibco, WebMethods and Vitria, requiring customers to license one of those packages just to get started. UAN 2.0 includes more applications for linking Siebel software to specialized computer systems, such as utilities billing systems and insurance claims programs, Mehta said. Once the links are set up, a call center employee, for example, can more easily answer billing questions from their Siebel screen.

Many companies hire consultants to stitch together incompatible systems, which often doubles or triples the cost of software projects, including those involving Siebel applications. Many big companies have complained that customer relationship management (CRM) software projects have exceeded budgets and fallen behind schedule after becoming mired in so-called system integration work. Siebel?s UAN initiative is designed to address that problem.

Siebel executives expect UAN to be a lucrative new revenue stream for the company, said Mehta. But it remains to be seen whether it can stem a two-year decline in sales.

UAN applications are priced separately. Siebel would not disclose the prices.