Siebel 8.1: Top 8 Reasons to Upgrade

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Time to upgrade your old version of Siebel?

UPDATED (8/12/2011): Since we originally posted this blog, we have changed our position. In most cases, we are no longer recommending that organizations running Siebel upgrade. Instead we are encouraging them to consider moving to a cloud-based CRM solution.  For more details, see this blog post: The End of Siebel. Original blog post below.

Current Siebel users, especially if they’re on version 7.5 or 7.8, often ask us if they should upgrade to the latest version of Siebel.

To be sure, Siebel 8.1 (technically, now 8.1.2) offers numerous enhancements, including an easier-to-use task interface, templates, revamped search and at long last, real two-way synchronization between Siebel and Outlook. Organizations that need this functionality, or which are supporting quite complex business processes, may have a strong case for upgrading.

To learn more, I asked Stefan van den Broek, who’s part of Innoveer’s Siebel practice, to detail the advantages of upgrading. Here’s his list of the top 8 reasons to upgrade to Siebel 8.1:

  1. Task Based UI: To help users accomplish tasks, previous versions of Siebel offered SmartScripts and iHelp, but neither were particularly intuitive or helpful. Task Based UI (user interface), however, provides a hands-on experience that guides users through each required screen. Furthermore, these screens are relatively easy to build, can offer pre-populated fields, and branch in different directions, depending on answers. As a result, this feature is particularly well-suited for complex or infrequently used sales or customer service business processes, to reduce training requirements and learning curves.
  2. Templates: Pre-populate almost any entity — including accounts and activities — in Siebel and save it as a template, so users can easily launch them later. With customer service, for example, create service request entities for specific situations, to be used by a particular user or shared between all users, to save time and reduce error rates.
  3. Lead entity (aka lead management): Previously, opportunities in Siebel were part of the main sales cycle — sales moved an opportunity from quote to order — and campaigns were only part of the marketing function. What was missing was a bridge between marketing and sales. The new lead entity fills that gap. Now, upload leads from external sources and let users create leads. Siebel also facilitates true lead management and qualification, meaning that a sales user can accept a lead, or reject it, which kicks it back to a lead pool managed by marketing. All in all, this is extremely useful.
  4. CRM Desktop: Siebel gains a true interface to Microsoft Outlook, replacing previous, limited attempts to integrate Siebel directly with the Outlook client, or the overly complex and time-consuming Siebel Server Sync Exchange (SSSE). CRM Desktop provides true, two-way synchronization of entities that exist both in Outlook and Siebel — contacts, to-dos, and calendar items. But you can also view and create any Siebel entities in Outlook, and make them follow identical account and opportunity rules. For example, create a Siebel account in Outlook, or create and view Siebel opportunities in Outlook. Furthermore, the underlying configuration and setup is relatively easy. Finally, this meets the needs of our Siebel customers requesting “real” Outlook synchronization.
  5. Search: Takes a big leap forward in Siebel 8.1, which gains brand-new search functionality, backed by a dedicated indexing database. As a result, searching is much faster. For the first time, search queries need not be case-sensitive, and you can search all Siebel entities at once, as well as external sources, such as a separate products database, or a SharePoint database. Finally, the search results get a Google-style makeover, including a hyperlink to the data, as well as a preview.
  6. Territory management: Formerly known as Assignment Manager, territory management got a big upgrade with Siebel 8.0, and with 8.1 it’s been further tweaked with better functionality and capabilities for refining territories and assigning them to salespeople. For example, you can run territory management in a trial mode to show business users what the results of using different territory configurations would be.
  7. Performance upgrades: On the technical side of Siebel 8.1, overall performance — including search — has improved substantially. Under the hood, this involved numerous technical changes that make the application run faster. At the same time, Oracle also made a number of enhancements to speed up productivity when using the Siebel Tools.
  8. UI and functional enhancements: With Siebel 8.0, Oracle cleaned up the UI, making it look a bit nicer, and added new applications — dubbed Widgets — that run outside Siebel. One example is Mobile Sales Assistant, which makes specific Siebel functionality available via a desktop widget. With 8.0, Oracle also added a new business rules engine, which moves validation and business rules from the Siebel business layer to the administration layer. As a result, you can write business rules using more of a business language, which makes for easier and quicker configuration and rollout of business rules.

The Business Case for Upgrading to Siebel 8.1

When organizations ask Innoveer whether they should upgrade to the latest version of Siebel, we ask them: What business goals do you need to accomplish? What functionality are you missing today? What are your current CRM and Siebel pain points?

Based on their responses, we overlay what Siebel 8.1 would offer, then make a recommendation accordingly. While many of Innoveer’s customers now use Siebel 8 or 8.1, a majority use Siebel 7.5 or 7.8, and a handful still rely on Siebel 6, which debuted in 2000. In general, the older the Siebel application, the more reasons you have to upgrade.

Learn More

For best practices to pursue when upgrading Siebel, read our white paper (PDF), Optimizing your CRM Initiative with Siebel 8. In addition, to make Siebel 8.1 also play well with mobile devices, such as the BlackBerry and iPhone, look to Pyxis Mobile.

Finally, if you’re evaluating whether to upgrade Siebel or embrace the cloud, know that from a feature and functionality standpoint, for most organizations today, cloud CRM will offer most of the capabilities they require, including built-in maintenance, upgrades and a more modern interface, at an equivalent or better price to Siebel.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.

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