Siebel in the Crystal Ball

Among the many announcements recently made by Siebel is the fact that Siebel 8.0 will be available in 2006, replete with a new user interface and improved business-process tools.

But the company still has challenges to address, said Yankee Group’s Sheryl Kingstone. According to her analysis of the information presented at Siebel’s annual user week, these challenges include countering increasing competition and spreading resources among myriad initiatives aimed at different target audiences.

Staying Out of Services

Siebel 8.0 will take the company further down the road of its previously announced service-oriented architecture. That will be a good thing, said Kingstone, especially for the customers who want to customize their deployments.

The service-oriented architecture will give customers the ability to take advantage of reusable business objects, services and processes.

It also will keep Siebel out of the professional-services business, at least to some extent. Business-process logic will remain in the realm of the enterprise and its consultants, while applications will be the responsibility of Siebel. That is the way it should be, Kingstone argued.

Clearing the Air

But some portions of the vision Siebel has been articulating remain a bit unclear for customers. That will continue to hinder marketing attempts, which need to improve to help Siebel’s target audiences understand the product line’s benefits, Kingstone said.

After all, Siebel has quite a few target markets. The company has products for large enterprises and mid-market companies. It also has followed quite a few competitors into the small-business market — a market that requires a strong indirect selling channel.

In addition, the company released an on-demand software offering after letting other companies get a leg up in the game — most notably, Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM).

As the company goes forward under new leadership, it will need to dedicate resources to all these efforts and prove that it can execute well on all fronts, said Kingstone.

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