Siebel execs pledge Siebel vision will thrive at Oracle

Siebel opened its user show with a taped message from Oracle's CEO and a promise that Siebel's CRM vision will survive the company's takeover by Oracle.

A taped message from Oracle Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Larry Ellison greeted attendees at Siebel Systems' Monday kickoff for its annual user show, a conference shadowed by Siebel's deal last month to sell itself to former rival Oracle for around US$5.9 billion.

Siebel executives had planned to use the CustomerWorld show, in Boston, to discuss their CRM (customer relationship management) development road map and to launch Siebel's new line of prebuilt software components, called Siebel Component Assembly (formerly Project Nexus). Oracle threw cold water on Siebel Component Assembly last month at its own user conference, however, where executives including Ellison said Oracle would not seek to preserve code from its acquired applications as Oracle develops the next generation of its applications software.

Siebel Component Assembly still launched as scheduled on Monday, but Siebel's executives focused their keynote presentations on the company's broader strategic vision. Siebel CEO George Shaheen touted the company's industry-leading 3.7 million active users of its CRM software, while Siebel products head Bruce Cleveland outlined the company's plans to unify its Enterprise, Component Assembly and CRM OnDemand software user interfaces into one common interface for all of its applications. The company's goal is to make its products flexible enough to match its customers' varied needs and business processes, an approach Siebel has dubbed "customer adaptive solutions."

"Over time, all of our solutions sets will be offered on all platforms," Cleveland said. In describing the company's user-interface plans, he commented, "We're going to integrate the user interface so tightly with Microsoft Office that Microsoft Office can actually serve as the primary interface for any user."

While Shaheen touched only briefly on Siebel's future within Oracle's rapidly expanding empire, he reassured attendees that Siebel's CRM vision will be the reigning one at Oracle. Ellison echoed that in a brief, recorded message played during CustomerWorld's opening session. "[Siebel's] applications will be the foundation of Oracle going forward," he said.

One customer attending the opening session, BlueCross Blue Shield of Illinois Application Team Lead Sreekanth Uppaluru, said he wished Siebel's executives had spoken in more detail about the upcoming Oracle acquisition. He came to the show hoping for information on product road maps and on how customers will be affected by the deal.

Prospective Siebel customer Dan Soucy said the looming Oracle takeover hasn't disrupted his company's plans to use Siebel's software for an extensive new CRM deployment. Soucy is the manager of customer transformation for Aliant Telecom Inc. in Canada, which choose Siebel after also evaluating CRM software offerings from PeopleSoft and Amdocs.

"From what I can see now, it looks like Siebel is going to be the centerpiece of [Oracle's] CRM vision," Soucy said.

Oracle has said it will support customers running software it has acquired, including Siebel's, for as long as users would like to remain on their current versions. However, its future development is focused on a new line of applications, called Fusion, that are scheduled to begin rolling out in 2008. In that line, Oracle said it aims to preserve all the functionality -- but none of the code -- from its acquired software.

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