Don't get me wrong, I don't think Siebel is going the way of the dinosaurs anytime soon. But I do think that Siebel's troubles, which coincide with a massive shift in how CRM is being used today, spell change, if not opportunity, for most Siebel/SAP joint customers.
The change in CRM is pretty dramatic, and is partly due to Siebel's success. Whenever I'm asked what's new in such broad horizontal areas as supply chain management or in more specific vertical areas like retail, finance, and consumer electronics, I usually answer: the customer. The use of the customer record and its associated data has so permeated the rest of the enterprise that pretty much every new IT endeavor entails some enhancements to the customer relationship side of the business.
This new lease on life for CRM means that integration with the rest of the enterprise isn't just a good idea, it's essential. Unfortunately, Siebel's UAN strategy – its solution to its integration problems– has never yielded the ease of use and, more importantly, the ease of mind needed to serve this growing
So, if you're a Siebel/SAP customers is it time to ditch Siebel and go with an all-SAP environment? If Siebel is still being used to run relatively discrete processes – standalone sales force automation – and discrete entities – a couple of call centers in Iowa – you might be okay staying the course. But if you're looking to leverage your customers across the rest of your enterprise, then a new strategy might be a good idea. The cost of switching may not be trivial, but the cost of staying with Siebel might turn out to be prohibitive. It's hard to have a best of breed solution in the very core of your enterprise, particularly one that hasn't been able to keep up with the times.
This was first published in August 2005