Siebel has announced a strategy to provide cheap customer relationship management software to users who are unable to implement the more expensive and complex enterprise version.
CRM has traditionally been considered expensive to implement as it can involve operational changes to the way businesses deal with their customers, but Siebel now hopes to make CRM more user-friendly with a strategy dubbed "CRM for everyone."
The cornerstone is a new service, called OnDemand, a hosted CRM service where companies use a web browser to run basic CRM functions in Siebel's sales, marketing and services modules.
The strategy is designed to give Siebel's existing enterprise users and potential SME users a way to use CRM throughout their companies.
Neil Morgan, vice-president for marketing at Siebel, said, "The software would allow users to install CRM with minimal disruption to their business.
"For example, a company could run one of its new products to provide back-office staff with a way to look up customer accounts."
Siebel has also built connections into Microsoft's forthcoming Office 2003 suite. According to Morgan, the links would allow Siebel customers to use Outlook's calendar and contacts address book to keep customer records, rather than maintain a separate Siebel contacts database.
Gartner advised small and medium-sized enterprises to assess the Siebel service. And larger businesses that already run Siebel should consider using it when they need to extend the package to new areas.
Michael Maoz, an analyst at Gartner, said, "Siebel's customers should re-examine the feasibility of extending Siebel to parts of the organisation previously left out for budgetary reasons."