IBM And Siebel Expand CRM Partnership

Siebel Systems cemented its relationship with IBM yesterday when the two companies unveiled an alliance under which they will conduct joint development, sales, and marketing efforts.

The alliance calls for IBM to sell Siebel Relationship 99 and for Siebel to sell IBM's DB/2 database. The companies will jointly market CRM technology. More critically, Siebel will build its products on IBM E-business technology such as WebSphere, Net.Commerce, and MQSeries. The two companies will develop products in concert with each other: Siebel product managers and developers will work closely with IBM's development organization, getting direct access to IBM technology.

Siebel claims the alliance will make it simpler for businesses to tie together customer-relationship management and E-business. "You have the world's biggest E-business provider and the world's biggest CRM provider teaming up to handle the customer-facing side of E-business," says CEO Tom Siebel.

The alliance builds on previous relationships between the two: Siebel had already made DB/2 its preferred database platform, and IBM's services organization has been deploying Siebel implementations. The relationship could also be construed as a strike against Oracle, IBM's database competitor and Siebel's CRM competitor. Oracle recently created a major alliance with Hewlett-Packard under which the two companies will use and sell each other's products.

The agreement also lays to rest any plans IBM may have had to build its own front-office technology. The computing giant dissolved its CorePoint CRM division this summer after a well-publicized launch, but indicated that the technology could resurface elsewhere. The company said yesterday that Siebel's products will form its primary CRM thrust. "The investment required to build an organization like Siebel's was more than we could put up," said Bill Etheringon, senior VP and group executive, IBM Sales and Distribution.

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