Siebel Systems has acquired Ineto Services, a hosted contact centre service, which it will integrate with its CRM OnDemand service.
Ineto will give Siebel's SMB OnDemand customers the ability to offer its users a higher level of support, typically available only at the enterprise level.
"With the addition of Ineto, companies will be able to capture every single touch of the customer and provide better sales techniques to customers and prospects as well as better support," said Keith Raffel, vice president of CRM OnDemand.
Ineto will be integrated into the Siebel OnDemand service and give smaller companies a call centre that supports voicemail, IVR (Interactive Voice Recognition), e-mail, chat, and fax. Companies will also be able to dial up or dial down levels of service depending on seasonal activity or other issues that affect its business.
The Ineto acquisition also at least matches Salesforce.com's September 2003 partnership with EchoPass, another hosted contact service supplier. But instead of a partnership, Siebel is purchasing Ineto for $5m in cash. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of this month.
Both Siebel and Salesforce.com stress that full-fledged contact centre support is typically beyond the reach of smaller companies.
"A lot of our mid-sized customers can't make the investment in hardware and software," said Kaiser Mulla-Feroze, director of product marketing at Salesforce.com.
One industry analyst said that the acquisition puts Siebel in an excellent position against its competitors.
"Integrating the call centre to the CRM stack is a powerful offering," said Joshua Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting.
Siebel's Raffel likened the acquisition of Ineto to its acquisition of Scopus, another contact centre service. in the mid 1990s.
"When we bought Scopus six or seven years ago, that's when Siebel took off. A year after that no company would buy a CRM solution that did not integrate contact centre support. The same will be true of our OnDemand service," he said.
Ephraim Schwartz writes for InfoWorld