Countering common perceptions that Siebel is not growing, Oracle is reaffirming its commitment to the granddaddy of customer relationship management applications amid sweeping changes in the CRM market.
Oracle acquired Siebel in 2006 as it sought to dominate the CRM apps market. That was followed by the release of Siebel 8.0 in 2007. Though much of the development of 8.0 had been done when the product was still owned by Siebel, Oracle continued to showcase Siebel as its flagship CRM product plowing R&D dollars in order to ensure its long-term success.
The move toward the Cloud caused considerable soul-searching among the Oracle CRM team, which started emphasizing the Oracle CRM OnDemand product in the subsequent years. Around that time, Siebel Analytics was rebranded as Oracle Business Intelligence, which later became OBIEE carrying the Enterprise Edition distinction. Meanwhile, OBIEE has emerged as the indispensable analytics engine for a multitude of Oracle apps through clever bundling and aggressive promotions along with its engineered systems.
On the other hand, Siebel, the on-premise product, was left adrift for a while.
Still, Oracle said that there has been good momentum of Oracle Siebel with new customers picking it up as well as existing users doing continuous upgrades, citing that 85% of them are running at least the 8x version. About 75% of them are running either 8.1x or 8.2x releases.
Based on field research on tens of thousands of Oracle customers, Apps Run The World estimates that Oracle has fewer than 6,000 customers using Siebel OnPremise and the Oracle CRM OnDemand with the latter gaining increased momentum every year.
In September 2005, Siebel was publicly quoted as having more than 4,000 customers and 3.7 million live users. Since that time, Oracle has added more than 1,500 customers with many picking up the Oracle CRM OnDemand product. In terms of the number of users, Oracle Siebel and CRM OnDemand are estimated to have a total of over 5.6 million users.
|Oracle’s Key CRM, ERP Brands||Estimated Number of Customers|
|Fusion Applications – non CRM|
|Fusion Applications CRM|
|Siebel On Premise|
|Oracle CRM OnDemand|
|Collective Intellect, Involver, Vitrue|
|JD Edwards Enterprise One, World|
Source: APPS RUN THE WORLD, June 2013
During a webcast today, Oracle said the latest release Siebel 188.8.131.52 offers enhanced user interface, industry-specific domain expertise and disconnected integration capabilities. Siebel Open UI, available to those that have upgraded to Siebel 184.108.40.206, adapts to any browser and flexible deployment with different skins, while coexisting with prevailing Siebel investments.
There will be no major upgrades going forward. Instead Oracle Siebel will focus on fixed pack with continuing enhancements.
For example, Innovation Pack(IP) 2013 will be released in Fall 2013, followed by 8.3FP, an almost full-blown upgrade in the mid-2015 timeframe.
IP 2013 will deliver better user interface, beefed-up mobile support of both IOS and Android devices. In addition, Siebel will make better use of tiles, similar to most Cloud apps designed for different tablets.
Furthermore, Oracle Siebel’s incremental enhancements will allow for automatic drag and drop into a shopping cart, single click from list view to tile view, and easy integration into ATG for eCommerce, as well as more Partner Relationship Management and eService extensions for public sector and horizontal users.
For mobile users in sales and field service professions, Oracle Siebel will allow them to capture and deliver account and lead information on the fly(for example: interacting with trade-show attendees and prospects in real-time), while leveraging location-based tools like Google Map.
Running Oracle Siebel, field service users will be able to access auto invoice generation, track inventory update, activity status, and check part availability.
The long-term roadmap covers cross channel marketing, service, sales rep enablement for tablet apps for commercial banking as shown in the roadmap below,
Challenges for Oracle Siebel
Oracle’s CRM strategy is at a crossroads as it strives to drum up support among a new generation of users who are more comfortable with social media-infused customer relationship management, as opposed to the pushy technique commonly used by laptop-toting pharmaceutical salespeople swarming doctor offices.
As a result Oracle went on a buying spree with RightNow for its popular customer-service and knowledge management apps, Eloqua for e-marketing and a trio of social-media tools from Collective Intellect, Involver and Vitrue. In other words, the center of gravity has moved away from sales force automation to customer experience management.
Through the process, Oracle salespeople have been spending more time selling the so-called CX products than Siebel. In fact some of these newly acquired products have been operating with a fair amount of autonomy, a rare occurence at Oracle where centralization has been the norm. For example, Eloqua continues to run its own website.
And the long-time executive in charge of Oracle’s CRM strategy has moved on. Anthony Lye, the former CRM chief at Oracle, resigned in January 2013, having overseen product development and management for six years after he joined Oracle to head CRM marketing from Siebel. Lye was also involved in the decision to buy RightNow.
Currently David Vap, group vice president, appears to be in charge of a big chunk of Oracle’s CRM strategy, after spending six years at RightNow as its product chief. Another key executive is Paul Teshima, formerly with Eloqua and now group vice president responsible for Oracle Marketing Cloud.
Regardless of these changes, Oracle Siebel’s position is firmly established in some of its key verticals such as life sciences, insurance, and public sector. The question is whether Oracle can muster all the parts necessary to sustain its momentum at a time when market forces like social media to CX are pulling the vendor in different directions. Then the remaining issue is whether Oracle wants to stay the course by positioning Siebel to win in a few narrowly defined markets where sales force automation remains foremost in the minds of certain enterprise applications buyers.