Special Report: On demand upgrades from Salesforce.com and Siebel

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Salesforce.com and Siebel both upped the ante in the on-demand marketplace with upgrades to their hosted offerings.

Salesforce.com unveiled the 18th generation of its CRM applications, as well as upgrades of its customization and integration tools and the new "operating system," called Multiforce 1.0, at a San Francisco product launch called Summer '05.

Multiforce is intended to give companies a single platform to manage, deploy and access all applications by providing single data and security models, and one user interface. As a result, the software makes it easier for people in different departments or companies to share information for better collaboration.

The company hopes customers will use Multiforce not just to access Salesforce.com applications, either pre-built or custom, but also applications from partners or third-party ASPs - although only one firm - marketing software provider Got - has announced support for the platform, so far.

Summer ‘05 also includes version 2.0 of Salesforce’s customisation tool Customforce, which enables customers to modify existing applications, or create new ones for expense reporting, project and schedule management, or other functions. The upgrade includes more than 100 pre-built business processes, such as lead scoring, discounting and quota attainment.

Rounding out the latest release is Sforce 6.0, the latest version of Salesforce.com's integration platform, which leverages web services standards, a technology that uses extensible-markup language, or XML, for connecting to business systems. Among the new feature is a data-management tool that the company claims can handle large data uploads and mass updates, deletes and exports.

Meanwhile Siebel announced the fifth update to its own hosted offering in less than 12 months. Among the updates is a number of tools designed to let workers share information more effectively, including new group-calendar and task-management applications with onboard integration with Microsoft's Outlook e-mail software, as well as a new set of collaboration applications for sharing information on accounts, contacts and sales leads.

Other additions to the hosted offering, through which companies hand over their corporate data to outsourced providers to manage on Siebel's servers, include new tools for tracking relationships between contacts, and a marketing segmentation application for use in creating targeted promotional campaigns.

The depth of the rivalty between Siebel and Salesforce.com has been reinforced by the disclosure of an email from the former’s head of on demand business Bruce Cleveland in which he claims a win rate of more than 56 per cent in head-to-head deals against Salesforce.com.

”One of the primary reasons Siebel has been able to deliver innovative technology so rapidly is that we invested approximately $299 million in R&D last year -- 22 per cent of our total revenues,” he claims. “During the same period, Salesforce.com invested around $9.8 million -- only 6 per cent of their total revenues.”

Salesforce.com Summer 05 is formally released in London next week.

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