Siebel shows off forthcoming 7.7 features

Siebel Systems mapped out its product road map Tuesday at its Siebel User Week show in San Diego, discussing new features in its forthcoming Siebel 7.7, an upgrade that will be the foundation of Siebel's software for the next several years.

Siebel Analytics 7.7 will be launched by the end of the year, making it the first product released in Siebel's 7.7 family. New features will include offline support for disconnected use of the software on mobile devices, and "guided analytics" features intended to allow users to more easily link business processes -- by, for example, using information from Siebel Analytics to launch a marketing campaign in a CRM (customer relationship management) system. Siebel Analytics 7.7 will also feature advanced features geared toward vertical industries and changes intended to ease administration and increase scalability.

Siebel CRM 7.7, soon to enter beta testing before a planned release in the first half of 2004, will include new functionality for users in several industries as well as changes in its usability.

One new feature added in response to customer requests is an "iHelp" tool, accessible from anywhere in the application, intended to guide users through tasks, Siebel Executive Vice President David Schmaier said during a keynote address focused on detailing Siebel's product plans. IHelp significantly increased task-completion rates in Siebel's test studies, he said.

Other usability changes include a tweaked navigation interface and screen layout and a simplified view of forms. The changes are minor and shouldn't require major user retraining, but should make the application more intuitive to use, Schmaier said.

Siebel will also introduce in CRM 7.7 enhanced order-management tools and a new customer loyalty application that will let companies implement points and other reward schemes for frequent buyers.

New industry applications in 7.7 include an event-management application for the hospitality industry; an all-in-one package for the auto industry for handling sales of cars, financing and insurance; and a customer console system for branch banks.

Schmaier reiterated Siebel Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tom Siebel's pledge in his keynote Tuesday that Siebel will stick with the 7.x product architecture for the foreseeable future.

"We'll be with it for the better part of this decade," Schmaier said.

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