Siebel optimistic in difficult market

The current economic downturn and a lack of customer awareness will lead to a shakeout in the e-business software market, but Siebel will survive, according to the company's Australian managing director Murray Creighton.

"We're an aggressive company with aggressive strategies; financially I think we're in great shape," Creighton said.

In the e-business space, he said, there are more products and services than customers and this is particularly true in the PC market.

"So our focus isn't on the supply chain side, but how we sell our [product]," Creighton said.

Creighton expects the company to double its business here in the next financial year, pushing revenue from $1.2 billion to $3 billion plus.

The vendor's global revenue grew from $US800 million to $1.75 billion last financial year, Creighton said.

US-based research firm Meta Group says Siebel stands out from the crowd because it has "an expertly instrumented applications portfolio" and focuses on its CRM (customer relationship management) capabilities.

According to Creighton, Siebel has increased its industry-specific applications range from 40 a few years ago to 114 today.

Siebel's solutions are tailored for 11 different industries including banking and insurance, automotive, pharmaceutical, government, high technology and telecommunications.

"CRM was initially all about sales force automation, the call centre and merging these functions into customer service. Now CRM has evolved into a broader definition: e-business," Creighton said.

"Our e-business focus is on front-office facing revenue-generating solutions, and deeper and broader e-business solutions with industry functionality."

The main trend he sees occurring among large CRM players like Siebel, SAP and Oracle is that their focus will no longer be on selling software or solutions, but on being in tune with customers' changes - "how [customers] want to redefine themselves, and what their business is about," Creighton explained.

"Your focus must be on the customer's success. We think this is just the beginning for the CRM market and for customers in general."

"And this is not about IT, but working with the CEO, VP of sales and marketing and customer service to influence our product development.

"A number of CEOs will tell you they've got eight views of the customer. And the CEO knows the customer wants real-time interaction and convenience from a business. They expect that their point of contact knows everything about their transactions and contact with, say, a bank. So information silos are a hotbed of revenue opportunities revealing customer behaviour and patterns."

Creighton said in Australia and the Asia Pacific the CRM adoption rate is more than doubling each year for front office companies.

"We're still in early days for CRM in the Asia-Pacific region. It's a mindset and evolution thing, but Australia is maturing in the CRM market," he said.

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