Siebel Systems has announced additions to the suite of analytic applications it developed on the Siebel Business Analytics platform. These additions include expanded CRM applications and new applications for procurement, human resources, operations/supply chain, and executive management. Siebel believes these applications will be successful because of its domain expertise in CRM and other organizational application areas. Yet significant barriers to success exist for these applications, as they did for other business intelligence vendors that have ventured into the analytic application domain. Still, Siebel's CRM base of customers is large enough to serve as a ready market to test its new analytic applications.
On October 4, 2004, at its inaugural Business Intelligence Summit and Siebel Week conference in Los Angeles, California, Siebel Systems made a series of announcements intended to underline its commitment to business intelligence. These announcements detailed new analytic applications which extend its analytic application suite, along with partnerships with IBM, Informatica, Microsoft, and Teradata.
Siebel's strategy for penetrating the business intelligence market includes pre-built, out-of-the-box analytic applications. Since July of 2003, applications for sales, marketing, and service have been available and now constitute a significant portion of the BI revenue for Siebel. Announced at the conference were new analytic applications for procurement, human resources, operations/supply chain, and executive management. The Siebel Business Analytics application set is now divided into four major categories; customer, financial, supplier/supply chain, and workforce analytics. These applications were developed with outside help from partners (including IBM) and other leading experts in the specific subjects targeted by the applications.
Siebel believes it can succeed where Informatica, Business Objects, and others have struggled. Siebel will claim that their background and competence in CRM gives them better insight into the business needs of organizations. Siebel claims organizations are now as receptive to packaged analytic applications as they were to packaged ERP applications a decade ago. Will organizations think the same about applications for their analytic processes? Ventana Research believes that analytics are now required, even if they aren't differentiating. Organizations will need to be smart about where to implement good-enough analytics with off-the-shelf analytic applications and where to custom-build analytics that are differentiating.
Yet another barrier to success surfaces, however. Siebel's out-of-the-box analytic applications must be easily adapted to underlying front-office software. Ventana Research believes Siebel's analytic applications can provide organizations significantly lower TCO and faster time to deployment, as long as little or no customization occurs. However, conversations with Siebel Business Analytics customers revealed that customization to the applications' data schema forced revisions to the view and report templates. Extensive customization of these applications will significantly diminish or even negate any TCO or time-to-deployment advantages the applications initially provided.
Siebel positions its new analytic application suite as being enterprise-ready and an end-to-end solution. Further, they expressly position the suite as complimentary to ERP applications provided by vendors such as SAP, Peoplesoft, and others. Ventana Research believes Siebel's applications will provide best results in organizations where Siebel's other products are already in use or where no similar application already exists.
Siebel Analytics is a robust analytic platform on which to build analytic applications. Siebel now claims significant revenue volume for its platform and for a suite of analytic applications built around the platform. Further, revenue growth for this area of Siebel's business has been dramatic when compared to other BI vendors in the market (although Cognos ReportNet has had dramatic revenue growth as well). Siebel also has significant presence and competency in customer-centric operations, more so than the other leading BI vendors. The combination of this competency, its robust platform, and its emphasis on out-of the-box applications will significantly differentiate Siebel's business intelligence offering. Siebel will have to contend with BI providers who have analytic applications, like Business Objects and Cognos, and enterprise application providers like SAP.
Organizations that intend to deploy business intelligence for operations, especially customer-facing operations, should consider both Siebel's analytic platform and its pre-built applications. Prospects should understand that short-time-to-deployment benefits and lower deployment costs of the applications will diminish as more customization is specified. Prospects should also recognize that these applications can be adapted to existing application and data stores and do not require building a brand new data warehouse.
Eric Rogge is VP & Research Director - Business Intelligence & Performance Management at Ventana Research (www.ventanaresearch.com), a research and advisory services firm.