The challenge between Salesforce and Siebel CRM

SQDM shares an article published by TechTarget portal where Denis Pombriant, founder of Beagle Research Group, discusses how Salesforce is inventing the future, while Siebel CRM tries to be part of it.  It also discusses how Oracle Siebel is a more versatile and better established product.

Perhaps the best way to understand the comparison is to start not with the functionalities but with the market verticals that each company serves.  These verticals may seem similar but the truth is that they are very different; both companies close business in small, medium and large enterprises and because Siebel has been around longer, it also became the standard during the client-server era.  Oracle has been working for good years to give its platform an upgrade with a more social and mobile vision.

Salesforce, on the other hand, practically invented cloud computing – or certainly did the respective marketing to bring it into existence.  Salesforce has a more modern infrastructure, especially given its multi-tenancy architecture.  These facts determine the types of customers each company attracts and also define long-term decisions about product evolution.  Oracle Siebel has a longer customer base and its customers may be more conservative.  The Siebel customer may have started in the client-server era and progressed from upgrade to upgrade to the Internet browser interface.

Today, both companies have customers of all types.  However Siebel is trying to take its customers into the future of computing while Salesforce provides a product that is already there and, to be frank, is inventing much of that future.

Siebel is a longer time-to-market solution and its customers have gone very deep, installing, syncing, using and maintaining their implementations for more than a decade, in many cases.  Conversations at Siebel go quickly to the bit and byte of a schema, to performance debugging, and to other technical issues.  Salesforce customers are pretty isolated from that universe and the perception is that using Salesforce is much simpler.

Salesforce is a solution that companies access through the cloud, paying for licensed functionality and managing it.  If Salesforce users are not interested in the procedural logic of the applications, they will only have to deal with the front end of the Salesforce application and probably nothing else.

Both companies offer mobility and social tools products that are very good.  The impression is that Siebel is trying to apply social tools to its applications and business practices, while Salesforce has already incorporated those functionalities.  This is a significant difference that goes right to the foundation of the platform.  Siebel has the Oracle Fusion platform to do development on and, over time, the application suite will be completely rewritten in Fusion.  Kudos to Oracle for making Fusion an optional approach for now that gives users plenty of time to balance.  There is, however, some confusion over the strength of Fusion, but that will diminish with a couple of well-publicized successes.

Since its inception, Salesforce has exposed its platform and API to customization and new development and, as a result, has about 1,700 partner apps sharing the same schema, tools, social infrastructure and login.  Moreover, Siebel is built on the premise that the customer will have a significant IT team that will keep the system running and will be servicing the many customizations that each user makes.

Salesforce is, at least in some ways, more standardized and that gives it a simpler operational profile.  The company continues to gain share in places where Oracle and other vendors are strong, especially at the enterprise level.  Some of Salesforce’s flagship customers also have other products installed, including Oracle, Siebel and SAP.  However, when decision makers get to a point where they want to develop something like web apps on Heroku or social apps like those from GE, Coca-Cola and Toyota, Salesforce finds itself breaking important ground.

This reveals an important advantage for Salesforce; the company now has the ability to surround older systems with cloud, social and mobility technologies.  As a result, Salesforce can continue to lessen traditional, application-by-application or department-by-department implementations.  This is a very similar strategy to what we see today in ERP, where Microsoft, SAP and NetSuite are promoting dual-tier strategies that keep older systems installed in the front office, while all new development and regional deployments are done on modern cloud platforms.

Siebel is a product for more conservative organizations that are familiar with the late 20th century IT paradigm.  This group feels at home with new release versions, with their applications and with their business processes. Salesforce, on the other hand, is the product that someone would ditch their conventional system for, as it is largely detached from the standards of the late 20th century. It is quite possible that Salesforce fans are the people who are most comfortable taking calculated risks, as with risk comes reward.  Salesforce customers, more than those of other technologies, are reinventing the future, inventing new business processes, and often reinventing themselves.

Read the full article here.

For more than ten years SQDM -Software Quality Driven Management- has provided professional consulting services on CRM solutions to countless companies.  SQDM is an official business partner of world-class manufacturers of these technologies, including Salesforce, Oracle and Microsoft.

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