Siebel 7.5 will include new functionality for multichannel sales, marketing, service, and partner and employee relationship management. Siebel has also documented hundreds of industry-specific CRM "best practices" and embedded them into the functionality of Siebel 7.5, Neil Morgan, vice-president marketing, Europe, Middle East and Africa, said.
"We have tried to expand within the customer base from CRM towards ERM (employee relationship management) and analytics," Morgan said. "Siebel 7.5 is the beginning in a very big change shift for us, a shift towards focusing on a broader CRM approach, and bringing in the best practices approach is a big part of that," he added.
Siebel already supports Web Services to some extent as well as standards-based integration through Universal Application Network but Siebel 7.5 adds support for Soap and WSDL. Users will be able to publish business services and workflow processes as Web Services while also being able to generate WSDL documents for business services and business processes. External tools will in turn be able to use the WSDL file to develop applications that interact with Siebel Web Services, the company said.
The upgraded product will also provide interoperability between Siebel eBusiness Applications and J2EE and .net products. "I think that it will be a coexistence world with both J2EE and .net," said John Simpson, director, sales consulting, Siebel Systems UK.
Although companies such as SAP and PeopleSoft are focusing on open standards, Siebel believes demand for interoperability with .net is important to its customer base. "We are doing what our customers ask us to do and they are saying that they want to bring Siebel into their .net environment," Morgan said.
Since Siebel announced version 7.0 of its CRM suite last November, 70 customers have gone live with the software while another 700 are in the process of implementing the software, Morgan said. The company has 3,500 customers for the suite worldwide, he added, and the proportion who have upgraded is fairly "standard" for the industry, he said.
News and technology company Reuters Group is one of the customers in the process of implementing Siebel 7.0 and plans to take on parts of 7.5 as it rolls out the system across the company. "We tell people well in advance when upgrades are coming along," Simpson said. "Reuters knew about 7.5 and planned for that transition. There will most likely be some additional charges to Reuters for going to certain aspects of 7.5," Simpson said.
Other highlights of Siebel 7.5, according to the company, include: Siebel Sales for global account management; Siebel Interactive Selling with improved customer order management, product catalogue and pricing management; Siebel Marketing, which includes budgeting and objectives management as well as enhanced customer and promotion analytics and Siebel Call Center, with real-time service analytics.