Why Salesforce’s Disruption of Siebel Should Matter to UC Now

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Tech advancements have clearly marked the last 30 years — as names like Apple, Google and Microsoft have emerged to the fore. But if we rewind the clock, there was one equally influential player in the beginning whose name has been often left out of the 2018 mix: Siebel Systems.

Siebel was a software company that started in the San Francisco Bay Area selling (what was then) a revolutionary customer relationship management (CRM) application. Founded in 1993, Siebel Systems experienced massive growth and success in its first 10 years and was even named the fastest-growing company in the United States in 1999 by Fortune magazine.

So, why haven’t we heard of Siebel Systems lately? Despite the company’s wild success, Siebel was largely displaced in the early 2000s as a result of Salesforce’s innovative software-as-a-service (SaaS) model launch. An up-and-coming underdog at the time, Salesforce introduced a unique licensing and delivery model of SaaS that enabled the company to conquer the tech giant Siebel Systems — making their once revolutionary, legacy-hosted technology CRM system almost obsolete.

Salesforce’s disruption of Siebel in the early 2000s is a tale that still yields much significance in the current unified communications (UC) landscape today. As digital transformation continues to influence industries across the globe, customer expectations are rapidly growing and shifting to include 24/7 access to support from any mobile device. As customer expectations morph, new technologies are being deployed to address these needs — ultimately resulting in a similar displacement of old models within the contact center and UC industries.

As the contact center industry continues to be influenced by SaaS delivery model trends, there are several developments that will dramatically shift its future: the incorporation of multimedia, the growing importance of encrypted communications and the broadening vertical applications of contact center technology.

Incorporation of Multimedia

While contact centers have traditionally been used for voice transactions, recent advancements in technology have made multimedia the new standard since these elements can be leveraged to improve the customer experience. With multimedia, customers have the power to choose the option that bests suits their particular need or situation. For example, a patient trying to schedule a mammogram with her clinic while at work might prefer to communicate via text rather than calling in and needing to publicly state the reason for the scheduled visit. With video also being a common form of communication today for many in their everyday lives — whether via social media or Facetime calls with family — it makes sense that tech-savvy consumers would also expect this type of communication elsewhere.

Importance of Encrypted Communications

Unfortunately more technology also means a greater need for securing the related data. As UC solutions become the contact center standard, heightened cyber-security concerns are at the forefront of every organization’s mind. Today’s cloud-based communications must provide encryption of data from cradle-to-grave (both in transit and at rest) to ensure that customer data is protected.

Rather than posing a challenge, encrypted communications can lengthen the reach of contact centers into industries that are traditionally more regimented in terms of security standards.

Broadening Vertical Applications of Contact Center Tech

Innovations like multimedia and encrypted communications are also broadening the use of contact center technology in places that were historically unable to use it before. One example is banking, which is highly regulated and has been slow to adopt new technology as a result of security concerns over consumer information. As call center technology becomes more robust and secure in order to meet those expanding customer expectations, the application of these UC solutions will be widened to reach these new industries and impact even more types of customers.

Looking ahead to the landscape of unified communications in 2019 and beyond, contact centers could very well become the hub of communications for almost every industry. The significant shift in customer expectations that has already occurred as a result of today’s smartphone-savvy consumers is indicative of greater change still on the horizon.

Since the only sure fact about the future is that it is certain to bring change, every organization must let the story of Salesforce’s disruption of Siebel Systems serve as a reminder to always embrace innovation; because what was innovative today, may well be forgotten tomorrow.

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