The challenge between Salesforce and Siebel CRM

SQDM shares an article published by the TechTarget portal where Denis Pombriant, founder of the 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 by starting 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; the two companies close business in small, medium and large companies and because Siebel has been around longer, it also became the standard during the client-server era.  Oracle has worked for good years to upgrade its platform with a more social and mobile vision.

On the other hand, Salesforce practically invented cloud computing – or certainly marketed 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-term customer base and its customers can be more conservative.  The Siebel client may have started in the client-server era and advanced from upgrade to upgrade to the Internet browser interface.

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

Siebel is a longer-term solution on the market, and its customers have gone deep, installing, synchronizing, using, and maintaining their implementations for more than a decade, in many cases.  Conversations at Siebel quickly move to the bit and byte of a scheme, to performance debugging and to other technical issues.  Salesforce customers are largely 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 and managing licensed features.  If Salesforce users are not interested in the procedural logic of the applications, they will only have to face the Salesforce application front end and probably nothing else.

Both companies offer mobility products and social tools that are very good.  The impression is that Siebel is trying to apply the social tools to its applications and business practices, while Salesforce has already incorporated those features.  This is a significant difference that goes right to the heart of the platform.  Siebel has the Oracle Fusion platform for development and, over time, the application suite will be completely rewritten in Fusion.  Congratulations to Oracle for making Fusion an optional approach for now that gives users enough time to balance.  There is, however, some confusion about 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 associated applications sharing the same framework, 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 an easier 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 the point where they want to develop something like web applications at Heroku or social applications like those for GE, Coca-Cola, and Toyota, Salesforce finds itself breaking ground.

This reveals a major 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 downsize traditional implementations, application by application or department by department.  This is a strategy very similar to what we see today in ERP, where Microsoft, SAP, and NetSuite are promoting dual-tier strategies that keep old systems installed at the head office, while all new developments and regional deployments are done on modern cloud platforms.

Siebel is a product for more conservative organizations, which are familiar with the IT paradigm of the late 20th century.  This group feels at home with new version releases, with their applications and with their business processes. On the other hand, Salesforce is the product by which someone would get rid of their conventional system, since it is widely detached from the standards of the late 20th century. It is quite possible that Salesforce followers are the people who are most comfortable taking calculated risks, since with risk comes reward.  Salesforce customers, more than those in 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 advised a number of companies with professional consulting services on CRM solutions.  SQDM is an official business partner of world-class manufacturers in these technologies, including Salesforce, Oracle and Microsoft.

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