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What to do about Siebel?

So you've got Siebel in your SAP shop. What should you do, rip it out or keep things humming along? SAP guru Josh Greenbaum has some thoughts on the matter in this column.

If you're like a lot of SAP customers, you have a Siebel problem. In the glory days of the now-troubled CRM vendor,...

the SAP customer base was a nature fit for what was at the time an innovative CRM offering. Which means, by definition, that Siebel's worsening problems are presenting these joint customers with an increasingly important question about what to do about upgrading their CRM environment.

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 integration imperative. Meanwhile, MySAP and NetWeaver promise a significant amount of built-in integration between the customer record and the rest of the enterprise.

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 last published in August 2005

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