Siebel Showcases Revamped Business Analytics Suite

In spite of analytic aspirations past, Siebel has been an indifferent steward of its BI assets

Brave New World or anti-climax? At its second annual Business Intelligence (BI) Summit last month, Siebel Systems Inc. showcased Siebel Business Analytics 7.8, the next-generation release of its business analytic and BI suite.

Last year’s BI Summit was a seminal moment for a prodigal Siebel, which—in spite of analytic aspirations past—has been an indifferent steward to its own BI assets (the Siebel eBusiness Analytics Suite), as well as those of the former nQuire Software Inc, which Siebel acquired in September of 2001. At last year’s first-ever BI Summit, then, Siebel group vice-president Larry Barbetta and Siebel founder Thomas Siebel offered voluble mea culpas, each pledging that Siebel was getting serious about BI.

Since then, Siebel has been acquired by database and enterprise applications giant Oracle Corp., which could have other plans for Siebel’s BI offerings. Judging by Siebel’s new Business Analytics suite, however, it appears to be business as usual for the CRM giant. Siebel Business Analytics 7.8 ships with several enhancements, including new predictive analytic capabilities via Siebel’s Real-Time Decisions (RTD) offerings. The RTD product set applies predictive analytics to customer behavior and customer profile information to help optimize offers for customers at the moment of contact.

Siebel Business Analytics 7.8 also includes new and updated “best practice” metrics and processes, visualization and interactivity features, role-specific dashboards, as well as analytic agents and workflows. Siebel—like other CRM vendors—continues to fine-tune its BI offerings for specific verticals. In this case, the suite ships with canned analytic applications for the pharmaceutical industry, new case management analytics for the public sector, enhanced contact center analytics, and improved strategic sourcing analytics, among others.

Another standout feature of the new release is a reporting component, courtesy of Siebel’s Advanced Reporting technologies, which promises to give customers greater control over the format, layout, and output of reports. Siebel’s Advanced Reporting stack comprises the Siebel Advanced Reporting Engine, the Siebel Advanced Reporting Workbench for IT professionals and report developers, and the Siebel Advanced Reporting User Edition.

It’s not best-of-breed reporting technology, but it’s better than nothing—and for this reason, says Rob Lerner, a senior analyst for data management with consultancy Current Analysis Inc., Siebel’s new reporting component will help to shore up its position vis-à-vis its competitors. “The Advanced Reporting products will help the company deepen its position in the market and compete more effectively against BI vendors with strong reporting offerings,” he says.

There is a “gotcha,” however. Lerner points to Siebel’s year-over-year declines in new license growth across all of its product lines—including analytics. “The company’s loss of momentum in this market, coupled with concerns regarding its acquisition, could further influence the sales of these products,” he suggests. “Moreover, there have been some concerns expressed that some of the new Siebel products will not be part of Oracle’s future product set. Although Siebel has denied this, stating that Oracle has assured them of the products’ support, there are nevertheless going to be concerns surrounding these products, which could influence uptake.”

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About the Author

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