EDS picks Siebel as its preferred CRM vendor

Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS) is beginning to implement a new vendor-relationship strategy emphasizing deeper alliances with fewer vendors. On Monday, it plans to name Siebel Systems Inc. as the first company with which it is forging a closer partnership.

After a turbulent period of lackluster revenue, management changes and layoffs, EDS is trying to reposition itself, relying less on supplying outsourced IT services and more on providing its clients with “business process transformation” assistance. As part of that overhaul, the company is developing industry-tailored packaged systems for handling common business processes, such as processing credit cards or insurance claims.

EDS, in Plano, Tex., will embed Siebel’s sales and analytics technology in the systems it builds, according to EDS vice-president Sally Herbert. It will also lead with Siebel as its preferred customer relationship management (CRM) system, and deploy Siebel’s software internally to replace a patchwork of homegrown and third-party applications.

EDS has partnered previously with other CRM vendors such as E.piphany Inc., but Herbert said the Siebel relationship will supersede previous alliances. “In the past we’ve had a number of partners that we have used across different clients, but now we are selecting a few partners to work with us across our entire platform,” she said.

Additional new EDS partnerships addressing other markets will be announced in the coming months, according to Herbert. Earlier this year EDS executives named Sun Microsystems Inc., Dell Inc. and Microsoft Corp. as companies they would like to work with more closely.

EDS and Siebel executives said they are working together on several new business pitches, but do not yet have any customers ready to announce.

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