Upgrade Siebel, Or Embrace Cloud CRM?


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Use of Siebel versus Cobol

Siebel CRM, like Cobol, won't ever go away. But it won't give you a competitive advantage, either.

Should organizations weighing an upgrade to the latest version of on-premise Siebel CRM embrace cloud CRM instead?

Until relatively recently, Siebel CRM running on the premises was the better choice for large enterprises with complex business processes. Today, however, for 90% of CRM projects, cloud CRM provides all required capabilities, at an equal or better price point.

The New CRM Calculus

To see why cloud, aka SaaS, CRM typically produces more benefits at an equal or better cost than upgrading Siebel, just crunch the numbers:

  • Maintenance: In most cases, Oracle’s annual maintenance contract for Siebel costs a bit less — perhaps 10-15% — than an annual subscription to Salesforce.com, Oracle CRM on Demand or Cegedim Dendrite’s Mobile Intelligence. (Winner: Siebel CRM)
  • Consulting: Roughly the same cost for either Siebel or cloud CRM, depending on how many current integrations can be reused. (Draw)
  • Hardware: Cloud requires no hardware investment. (Winner: Cloud CRM)
  • IT support: Cloud CRM still requires some support — setting up new accounts, for example — but needs much less than Siebel. (Winner: Cloud CRM)

Siebel: What’s Missing?

Next, factor in the capabilities missing from Siebel, but included with cloud CRM:

  • Mobility: Out of the box, cloud CRM supports numerous devices, including BlackBerries, iPhones, iPads and smartphones, while Siebel does not.
  • Killer interface: Cloud CRM sports a modern, Web 2.0 user interface (UI) that will make your users happy. By comparison, the Siebel UI/architecture dates from the year 2000, and hasn’t kept pace with Salesforce.com, Oracle CRM On Demand or Cegedim Dendrite.
  • Browsers: Cloud CRM supports IE8, Firefox, Chrome or Safari, while Siebel 8.1 only works with IE7.
  • Outlook integration: Cloud CRM integrates well with Outlook, but Siebel 8.1 has a tough time talking to Microsoft Outlook, plus you’ll need someone well versed in the incredibly arcane Siebel Server Sync Exchange (SSSE).
  • Upgrades: The cloud gives you free upgrades, demands little management and constantly adds functionality.

Stuck on Siebel?

Now, let’s imagine you’re trying to sell a Siebel upgrade to your CFO. For project rationale, perhaps you’ll detail how:

  • Oracle is soon dropping support for your Siebel version
  • Oracle already stopped supporting the underlying database platform
  • IT has otherwise eliminated all instances of the operating system that your Siebel version requires
  • Salespeople — and security managers — want to use a different browser than IE6
  • For CRM integration, the underlying middleware is five years old and no longer supported

Next, explain to your CFO what upgrading to Siebel will cost.

What’s missing from this discussion? Benefits. If you’re Coke battling Pepsi, or Christie’s competing with Sotheby’s, this type of Siebel upgrade doesn’t buy you a competitive advantage; you’re just purchasing parity.

When all is said and done, upgrading is a tough sell. Count on a multi-million-dollar investment, using a significant amount of internal IT resources, hitting unforeseen challenges and timing-wise, the project consuming the better part of a year. Furthermore, don’t be surprised if your VP of sales — furious at waiting nine months to get no new competitive capabilities — goes rogue, using his corporate credit card to buy his salespeople a subscription to Salesforce.com.

Ensure CRM Adds Business Value

The Siebel-upgrade scenario isn’t pretty. Again, for 90% of projects, it’s also not the smart business choice.

But some organizations have a tough time hearing that news. For example, we’re currently helping the 20-person Siebel support team inside a financial services firm determine whether it should upgrade to Siebel 8.1 or embrace cloud CRM. For this firm, financially and functionally speaking, cloud CRM makes the best sense. But the internal Siebel team worries that by recommending cloud CRM, they’ll lose their jobs.

Because I’m an optimist, my perspective is different: Firms should retrain their Siebel CRM personnel on the new cloud CRM system, so they can add business value. That way, instead of just maintaining Siebel, you’re using cloud CRM to seize a competitive advantage.

Deploy Your Troops: Frontline or Auxiliary?

Here’s a military analogy to show how cloud CRM can give you a competitive advantage: Say you and your opponent both have 20 soldiers. But only four on each side shoot the guns; the rest are auxiliary forces. What if you could reverse the equation? Bring 16 people to your frontline, and you’d outgun the competition by a factor of four.

From a CRM standpoint, this is what the cloud offers: not marking time with system management, but enabling you to deliver new capabilities to salespeople, managers and executives, including better reports and dashboards, access to more complete and relevant views of the customer, modern interfaces, mobility and more.

Again, if your organization has quite complex sales or business processes, upgrading to a new version of on-premise Siebel CRM may give a competitive edge. For 90% of organizations, however, cloud CRM now provides every capability you need, offers rapid procurement, and at an equal if not better cost.

But is your in-house Siebel CRM team ready to hear that?

Learn More

Which SaaS — aka cloud — CRM applications are best? Read our CRM smackdown to find out.

To rapidly adopt SaaS and ensure that it meets business requirements, consider using a CRM accelerator. Also be sure to integrate other enterprise applications with SaaS CRM.

Finally, learn why SFA failure rates will increase as more organizations adopt cloud CRM, and simple steps you can take to help avoid failure.

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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