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Siebel releases new management software

Front-office software leader Siebel Systems announces new Web-friendly software intended to keep it ahead of competitors in the sales, marketing and customer management software market.

    Front-office software leader Siebel Systems today announced new Web-friendly software intended to keep it ahead of competitors in the sales, marketing and customer management software market.

    The sixth release of its customer relationship management (CRM) software suite, called Siebel eBusiness 2000, is intended to help companies coordinate sales, marketing and customer service requirements company-wide. The new software includes Web ties and can be accessed via wireless devices, the company said.

    Siebel, which has dominated the market for CRM software to date, is facing increased competition from other major software makers that have recently jumped on the bandwagon as sales for enterprise resource planning (ERP) software dip and the market for CRM software continue to soar. ERP software manages and automates a company's back-office, or financials, human resources and purchasing needs.

    Market research firm International Data Corp. expects the worldwide market for CRM software will grow to $11 billion in 2003 from $1.9 billion in 1998. Siebel competitors, including software giants Oracle and SAP, have both been busy developing their own suites of Internet-based CRM applications. Meanwhile, both PeopleSoft and Baan have acquired front-office software makers Vantive and Aurum, respectively, hoping to integrate the applications with their existing software offerings.

    Included in its new product line are 28 additional applications, such as Siebel Personalization, which automatically targets and tailors content and products for a customer's specific interests; Siebel ePricer, which is a pricing tool that ensures that orders processed over the Web are correctly priced; Siebel eMail Response, which automates the process of managing incoming email messages from customers; and Siebel eTraining, which provides a Web-based training portal for creating and managing training courses on the system for new users.

    Additionally, the company intends to release Siebel Industry Applications 2000, a set of CRM applications designed specifically for such industries as apparel and footwear, automotive, consumer goods, energy, finance, healthcare and others. The industry applications will be available later this summer.

    Two weeks ago, Siebel rival Oracle unveiled the Oracle Service 11i component of its Web-enabled suite of CRM software. Service 11i, which will be generally available next month, enables companies to automate several areas of customer service via the Web, such as field service, customer self-service, customer inquiries via email, delivery of products, scheduling of products and customer service contracts.

    Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison has been known to target the front-office software leader, claiming Oracle is No. 2 in the CRM market and vowing to knock Siebel very soon out of its No. 1 spot. Last month, Ellison said the company's third-quarter sales of CRM software reached $49 million, up 179 percent from a year ago. He predicted sales will double next quarter.

    Siebel is slated to report first-quarter earnings later today after the market closes. Analysts surveyed by First Call expect the company to earn 15 cents a share.

    Siebel eBusiness 2000 is available immediately, the company said. Pricing for the applications start at $5,000 per concurrent user.