Siebel to Expand Beyond Customer Analytics

Siebel may be taking a page from Microsoft Corp.’s strategy book, leveraging its market-leading customer relationship management application stack to expand into a larger market—enterprise business intelligence.

At its Siebel User Week conference last week, Siebel Systems Inc. unveiled version 7.7 of its Siebel Enterprise Analytic Platform.

With the new release, Siebel appears to be taking a page from Microsoft Corp.’s strategy book, leveraging the strength of its market-leading customer relationship management (CRM) application stack to expand into a larger market—enterprise business intelligence (BI).

According to market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC), Siebel sold about $130 million in customer analytic software in 2002—mostly into existing accounts and mainly in the form of analytics embedded in its own CRM software.

Siebel’s analytic platform is largely based on technology that it acquired from nQuire Software Inc. in September 2001. Prior to the acquisition, nQuire marketed Internet-based business analytics optimized for decision support. Siebel first incorporated nQuire’s technologies in version 7 of its Siebel Analytics suite.

Since then, Siebel has honed its skills as a purveyor of customer analytic software and was recognized by IDC as the market leader in this space in July. With Analytics 7.7, Siebel clearly hopes to tap into the potential of its huge installed base by touting new capabilities and enhanced integration with its bread-and-butter Siebel CRM suite, along with other features that will place it into more direct competition with established BI players such as Business Objects SA, Cognos Inc., and SAS Institute Inc.

The company’s message, says Mike Schiff, a senior analyst with consultancy Current Analysis, is clear: You’re already using Siebel for customer analytics, but you may not know that you can also use it as a foundation for your broader BI efforts. “It looks like they woke up and realized that they want to own the other side, not just the operational side, but the analytic side,” he speculates. “As far as cross-selling opportunities [into Siebel’s own installed base] go, it’s probably a very good idea.”

The new platform includes analytics designed to support 21 vertical industries, with data models that encompass industry-specific data beyond Siebel CRM data. Siebel representatives describe a number of potential applications for the enhanced analytic capabilities of Siebel Enterprise Analytic Platform 7.7, such as customer performance and churn detection in telecommunications as well as customer value and physician- and product-opportunity identification in pharmaceuticals.

Other new features of the platform include new role-based (“guided”) analytics, which provide intelligent links, analytic alerts, and workflows that guide users to the next logical step or action in an analysis. Siebel says customers can expose the knowledge and expertise of their most knowledgeable employees in the form of a guided analytic, potentially enhancing their skill levels and abilities. Additionally, with this new release, analytics functionality is directly integrated with Siebel's proven CRM business processes.

Other BI-centric goodies include enhancements to the platform’s pre-built Relationship Management Data Warehouse ETL programs, such as parallel ETL plan execution, high performance loading, optimizations in incremental updates, and enhanced scheduling and management.

Schiff cautions that Siebel’s move to expand into more traditional BI channels puts it into competition with many of the same vendors that are now its partners, and which ante up large sums of money to participate in its partner program. “If it starts getting to be too strong [of an offering], it’ll turn potential partners into competitors. So it’s a balancing act for Siebel.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.