Siebel Ships 7.5

Siebel’s newest version of its flagship CRM product builds on the Web-centric architectural shift the company made in version 7. Users will be able to better integrate disparate applications into 7.5, as the company’s widely lauded Universal Application Network (UAN) is embedded in this release. It also offers full Unicode support for cross border implementations and for the first time unbundles its data model.

Siebel 7.5 “is the next logical evolution for Siebel,” Denis Pombriant, vice president and managing director of Aberdeen Group’s CRM practice, told CRM Buyer Magazine. Last year, Siebel introduced a modularized architecture that made its suite more Web-centric and provided a higher capacity for conventional client-server applications, he said. “With 7.5, they have taken the next step in building in business processes, methodologies and industry-specific best practices.”

Kevin Nix, vice president and general manager at Siebel, told CRM Buyer that with this release, Siebel has incorporated the concept of best practices on top of its library of business practices for the first time. “The CRM market has evolved beyond the point of using this or that screen to enter certain data,” Nix said. “Now, it’s all about asking, ‘How will this system help me improve the process of dealing with a customer?'”

Better Functional Links

This translates into an easier user experience, Nix added. For example, the sales forecasting process – which includes not only generating a forecast for a particular product, but also using an analytics component to examine sales in the pipeline and calculate how fast the cycle is moving – was once a series of separate steps that a user had to know how to knit together.

Siebel 7.5 “has taken those steps and linked them together in a intelligent manner. The genesis for this was our customers. They kept coming to us and saying that they understood what we could do but weren’t sure exactly how to get to that end result,” Nix said.

Integration Tool Embedded

Siebel 7.5 is the first product to ship with its UAN embedded into the application. Released earlier this year, the UAN is an integration tool that includes interfaces for cross-business and cross-vendor applications based on SOAP(simple object access protocol), WSDL (Web service definition language) and XML (extensible markup language).

Although it was widely lauded by analysts for its vendor-neutral approach, it is still unclear though how widely it will be adopted. “UAN represents an important stride, but we don’t know if the marketplace has accepted it or not. That is going to be interesting to watch,” Pombriant said.

META Group senior program director Steve Bonadio told CRM Buyer that the UAN might also become an issue with Siebel’s partners, as many of them will likely be going to market with similar products. “There will be competitive elements that will have to be worked out,” he said.

Unicode and Universal

Also in 7.5, Siebel unbundles its customer data model in a product called Universal Customer Master, which pulls customer data from multiple business units and systems into one repository. It offers full Unicode support, which lets multinationals unify customer data from foreign language applications.

“The CRM systems of the past typically required separate server instances to support the disparate code bases or scripts necessary for each language,” Bonadio said.

Enhancements Abound

Siebel has enhanced many other functions, including multichannel sales, marketing and service, with 7.5. “It offers some fairly newsworthy features that are quite a big deal for a point release,” Bonadio said.

These include global account visibility and incentive compensation in Siebel Sales; enhanced customer order management, product catalog and pricing management in Siebel Interactive Selling; a decision broker, budgeting and objectives management, enhanced customer and promotion analytics, and enhanced collaborative marketing in Siebel Marketing; logistics management, contract performance analytics, complex hierarchical assets and quality/defect management in Siebel Field Service; real-time service analytics in Siebel Call Center; and partner analytics, partner CRM, collaborative campaign execution and partner Web Services in Siebel PRM.

It has also enhanced its analytics capabilities and features in its ERM (employee relationship management) product line, Siebel said.

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