Siebel upgrades its flagship CRM software

E-business applications vendor Siebel Systems Inc. officially unveiled Siebel 7.0 on Monday, the latest version of its CRM (customer relationship management) software.

The biggest change to the software, launched at the Siebel Worldwide User Week 2001 conference in Chicago, is that Siebel 7.0 is now Web-enabled, according to a company spokeswoman.

Warren Shiau, a software analyst with IDC Canada in Toronto, said Siebel 7.0 is based on Web architecture, while previous versions were client-server based.

“(This) enables you to access it through a browser, rather than having the Siebel software installed on a fat client that you access the application from. That gives it a whole lot more flexibility,” Shiau said.

The latest version allows Siebel to capitalize on the growing e-business market, Shiau said. As CRM is a relatively new concept, Siebel 7.0 gives the company’s installed customer base a clear idea of the direction it is taking, Shiau noted.

“Siebel (is) doing something that would better enable them to get new clients . . . during the next few years you do not want to be offering an application suite that does not have Web architecture.”

This is the first time that Siebel has been able to offer Internet applications and services for its CRM software, such as the ability to update software over the Internet, Siebel said in a statement.

The CRM software package has added XML (Extensible Markup Language) and Java-based interfaces and will not require client-level software. But because the CRM software itself was not rewritten in Java, it is Web-enabled rather than Web-based, the Siebel spokeswoman said.

Siebel 7 can also work with handheld wireless devices, allowing business users to access customer and product information remotely. Siebel Sales Handheld 7 for Palm OS, produced in conjunction with Palm Inc., was announced by the companies in a separate joint statement.

IBM Corp. also announced on Monday that it is working with Siebel to fully support Siebel 7. Siebel 7 is compatible with IBM’s major software and hardware lines, including data management, middleware, eServer, and storage products, IBM said in a joint statement with Siebel.

IBM and Siebel will continue to work together to support each other’s products and have set up a jointly staffed Partner Integration Center based in IBM’s Markham, Ont. lab where DB2 Universal Database is developed, the companies said.

That partnership with IBM has allowed Siebel to become a dominant player in the Canadian market, Shiau said.

Additionally, IBM announced has completed the rollout of Siebel eBusiness Applications to 26 of its global customer centers, and that it plans to upgrade to Siebel 7.0 in mid-2002, IBM and Siebel said.

Other companies announcing support for Siebel 7.0 include Cisco Systems Inc., Unisys Corp. and speech-enabled software vendor Syntellect Inc., Siebel said on its Web site.

– with files from Laura Rohde, IDG News Service

Siebel Systems, in San Mateo, Calif., is at