Well, he would say that wouldn't he, but Phill Robinson, EMEA marketing director for Salesforce.com, is taking serious exception to arch-rival Siebel's claims to be a player in the hosted CRM market.
To recap, Siebel entered the hosted apps market a few years ago with Sales.com at roughly the same time as Salesforce.com got off the ground. Siebel abruptly withdrew from the sector in a relatively short space of time, claiming that the market was not there.
Salesforce.com meanwhile carried on and carved itself a successful niche. It has now entered profitabilty and is set to go public in one of the most eagerly awaited technology IPOs of the year.
Siebel in turn now sees the hosted market as offering commercial opportunity and is heavily pushing its own CRM On Demand service through partners IBM and BT. Unlike the pureplay hosted offering from Salesforce.com, Siebel is keen to play up its hybrid credentials - offering customers the chance to deploy on premises software alongside hosted versions for smaller geographical divisions or at a departmental level.
Last week in Cannes, at the Siebel User Week conference, CRM On Demand was at the top of the corporate agenda, but Robinson - a former Siebel executive - is singularly if predictably unimpressed. "Siebel may have finally got itself a finely adorned and fashionable 'on-demand' outfit - but at the end of the day we all know the Emperor still has no clothes on!" he says.
"Siebel OnDemand is not even available yet" he claims. "Yes, the press release says it is but if you call up and ask you'll find out that you can't have it yet. Sources reveal it may be available in May, but
last week's news was merely a re-announcement of the original launch at the back end of last year and still no product. Yes, I had to check this out because I was confused by all the smoke and mirrors.
"Even when it does become available in the five new languages, it won¹t be a global solution available 'for any size company, in any industry, anywhere and in any language'. Siebel may like to trim down major world
languages to the five it covers, but I don't think our friends in Asia would be too pleased!"
Robinson also cast doubt on the appeal of the hybrid model as defined by Siebel. "Here's the killer" he says. "Siebel subscribers need to invest in a hosted integration server to integrate existing Siebel licences with Siebel
OnDemand. So let's get this straight... you would need to buy an aditional server to integrate Siebel software with the Siebel software you've already got. Do they think anybody is fooled by this?"
Robinson concludes by claiming that Siebel's claims are in fact substantiating the postion of its arch-rival. "They're doing our PR for us," he insists. "Apparently Siebel has 2.36 million users. Yes, this is the number of licences it has sold - but as we all know, that means the number of users is far lower. Gartner estimates that just 42 per cent of these licences have been deployed, but we estimate it far lower at 20 or 30 per cent.
"This shows the weakness of the traditional software model once you have sold licences you have no way of tracking which are used and which are expensive shelfware".