Oracle Aims to Cut UI Clutter in Siebel CRM Update

Oracle has raised the ante again in the hosted applications space, announcing Wednesday that it will preview the latest version of Siebel CRM On Demand, the fourteenth version of its Software as a Service (SaaS) CRM solution.

Siebel CRM On Demand 14 is designed to “simplify user tasks, reduce clicks and page refreshes, and provide powerful page customization features to personalize work environments,” according to the company.

Hosted on Oracle’s Grid-based on-demand infrastructure with an all-Oracle stack, the new version will deliver a set of sales, marketing and service automation capabilities along with embedded analytics, a prebuilt data warehouse, and a built-in virtual call center intended to support call agents without the need for a telephony infrastructure, said Oracle.

The Key Is Analytics

Analytics is a key differentiator in Version 14, said Anthony Lye, senior vice president of CRM On Demand at Oracle.

It can pull in data from Oracle data warehouses and business intelligence stores to bring analytics and historical trends to a standard CRM dashboard, he explained, adding that the product “marries hosted software with Web 2.0 technologies.”

Planned capabilities in Siebel CRM On Demand include “next-generation usability, meaning it implements Web browser technologies such as Ajax, in-line edit, and Web 2.0 constructs,” Lye said.

The company also plans to add home page customization so users can arrange elements on the page, including lists, history and favorites.

It Gets Easier

Oracle’s main area of focus for this product is ease of use, according to Richard Balde, an analyst at Illuminaata. Oracle has bulked up functionality in its user interface, he told CRM Buyer, which “takes a lot of the clutter out of the user’s way and presents them with only the data they need to work with.”

Oracle’s announcement seems rather defensive in light of Salesforce.com’s recent deal with Adobe to include Adobe Flex tools in its hosted offerings, Denis Pombriant, principal with the Beagle Research Group, told CRM Buyer.

“From these two announcements, I would say there is a UI and usability war heating up — just the kind of thing you’d expect in a market that is becoming saturated with front-office solutions and where a lot of on-premise applications are getting ripe for replacement,” he stated.

In addition, the new release will enable integration capabilities so that customers and partners can jump between Siebel CRM On Demand and other applications, promising “significant functionality enhancements across its sales, marketing, services, analytics, built-in call center, and industry edition capabilities,” Oracle said.

This new functionality also includes customization capabilities — which let organizations embed best practices, streamline data entry and configure different layouts for different record types — as well as support for complex, cross-matrixed organizations with features to set up the system to model their organizational structure.

‘Let the Dogs Out’

“The book of business hierarchies capability in Siebel CRM On Demand dramatically simplifies the administration of data access in an organization as diverse as LexisNexis,” said Andrew Haffke, Director of Sales Operations, LexisNexis Risk and Information Analytics Group. “There are so many dependencies on who needs to see what data and where, being able to model our organization quickly and efficiently dramatically expands the scope of Siebel CRM On Demand as a driver for business results.”

“Siebel CRM On-Demand has been a pretty good product, limited in part by an errant hybrid strategy that tried to up-sell users from on-demand to on-premise, which I don’t see happening,” said Pombriant. “Now, it appears that Oracle might actually ‘let the dogs out,’ and that might be interesting.”

Siebel CRM On Demand 14 will be available within the next 12 months for US$70 per user per month, according to Oracle.

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