14 November 2002 Telecoms giant British Telecom has launched a joint partnership with customer relationship management giant Siebel to sell its software into the UK public sector.
Known as ‘e-City’, the product has been co-developed by BT and Siebel as a ‘verticalised’ extension of BT’s Contact Central mid-market customer relationship management (CRM) product. This is intended for mid-market companies of between 1,000 and 5,000 employees and is based on Siebel’s technology.
BT and Siebel launched Contact Central in November 2001 and are now looking to market the product aggressively to the public sector. BT Retail CEO Pierre Danon estimates that the e-government market is worth about £1.75 billion (€2.75bn) and is growing rapidly.
“Right now, government services are still offered in the same way as bank branches – you stand in line between certain times,” said Siebel CEO Tom Siebel at the product’s launch. “We don’t plan to take that away or take the call centre away. The desire is to be able to carry on a dialogue with government across all of these channels, not just the Internet.”
Siebel and BT are billing the e-City product as a low-customisation, easy-to-install CRM package for local authorities and other small and medium-sized public bodies. BT will manage the implementation. Larger government units, for example the Inland Revenue, would likely opt for a more scalable version of Siebel’s applications suite.
According to Tom Siebel, the new product will “take the time and cost involved in customisation” – something for which his company has consistently been criticised in the past.
Siebel already boasts a couple of government successes in the UK, including Leeds City Council, which has deployed Siebel’s eService application, enabling people to access benefits information online. Similarly local authority Tower Hamlets in East London has eliminated 75 legacy back-office systems by deploying Siebel eGovernment across its offices.