The End of Siebel


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Tom Siebel moved on from CRM over five years ago. Since then, Oracle hasn’t made any dramatic improvements to Siebel CRM. Isn’t it time for us to stop using his software?

Long time readers of this blog will note that we often say things like “CRM projects don’t succeed because of technology, but from ensuring that they deliver required business goals.” We also take the position that the wrong technology decisions can kill or hamper even the best planned CRM projects.

A Bit of Background

Over the past few years we’ve struggled with when and if we should recommend Oracle’s Siebel CRM. In 2008, we said that “CRM projects must now begin by answering this fundamental question: Siebel or SaaS?” In January of 2010, our CRM Smackdown post argued that for new CRM implementations you should only look at, Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Oracle’s CRM On Demand. This kicked off a flurry of comments on CustomerThink (where this blog is syndicated) with thoughts on other CRM products to use… but no-one suggested Siebel.

Earlier this year, we’ve wrote about the need for companies when they’re considering upgrading Siebel to evaluate cloud-based CRM applications at the same time. As recently as March of this year, we suggested that Siebel might still have a role in high volume call center environments.

Siebel is either CRM’s Cobol or it’s Kryptonite

So, what’s changed? It’s almost like the question should be “what hasn’t changed”?

First of all, cloud based solutions have improved dramatically. Large call center environments are using applications like as effectively as their Siebel based competitors. If Cloud CRM applications can handle the load, why even consider Siebel? Modern, cloud-based CRM platforms offer social media integration, better designed user interfaces, third party applications that can easily plug in and a dramatically different support model which puts the focus on business value and not maintaining servers.

Secondly, Oracle has been woefully unhelpful in guiding existing customers about the forthcoming Oracle CRM Fusion Application. At Oracle Open World last year, Larry Ellison announced that it would be released in 2011, but I haven’t seen anything official yet. Oracle has been working on its Fusion Applications for over five years, with at least four missed release dates.

Since there is no upgrade path from Siebel 7.x or 8.x to Oracle CRM Fusion, Oracle has put its customers in a dilemma. Continue to invest in Siebel, at the expense of redoing the work when moving to Fusion CRM, or wait. More and more of them have been moving to and MS Dynamics CRM. Most customers I speak with have stopped believing Oracle.

Third, Siebel’s technology is old and is causing real problems. Those of us familiar with Siebel know it’s limitations quite well: dependent on Internet Explorer 7 or 8 to run an ActiveX control that must have seemed very cutting edge in 2001. Besides this, the skills needed to develop and successfully deploy Siebel are getting to be rare — and the costs of these skills are increasing.

Groucho Was Right

To summarize — the application has no future according to its owner, no special area that it beats the competition, and people trained and familiar with it are getting scarce and expensive. Sounds like the joke attributed to Groucho Marx about the food being terrible but yet “the portions are so small”.

Certainly companies that are using Siebel today are not all going to move off of it en mass in the next few months. We recommend that they stop investing it it, and make plans to move to a Cloud based CRM platform. In the best case organizations would evaluate their business processes for sales, marketing and customer service at the same time.

Learn More

What are your CRM project goals, and how can they best be achieved? To understand the cost and time required to achieve specific marketing, sales or service business results, tap Innoveer’s CRM project “sizer.” Built using benchmarks derived from our work with hundreds of customers on more than 1,200 CRM projects, the CRM sizer will help you identify the most rapid and effective path to achieving your desired CRM business results with cloud technologies.

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.


  1. Excellent article regarding the future direction of on-premise migration to cloud-based platforms. Would really like to see a 3rd party produced study that compares the costs associated with maintaining an on-premise CRM installation vs. a cloud-based application.


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