Oracle makes inroads into flagship Siebel accounts

18 January 2002 Database giant Oracle is muscling in on some of customer relationship management (CRM) market leader Siebel’s flagship accounts, according to Mark Barrenechea, Oracle’s senior vice president for applications development.

The company has sold modules of its CRM applications suite into some of Siebel’s top reference customers in recent months, claimed Barrenechea, including the hardware vendors Compaq and Sun Microsystems, and networking specialist Avaya.

Barrenechea’s supposition is that Siebel’s top reference customers are edging away from the CRM specialist because they want a broader, better integrated set of applications on which to run their business.

As well as CRM modules, Oracle’s suite of 150 applications cover finance, CRM, manufacturing and many other core business areas. All share a common data model. Some 20% of Oracle’s applications customer base currently use CRM software from Siebel.

Among the software Barrenechea claimed Oracle has sold to Siebel customers are sales force automation (SFA) applications, the area in which Siebel has its roots.

Barrenechea says Oracle has won SFA applications business at Siebel customers Compaq and AT&T Business Services, and also sold contract management software into networking company Cisco, field services modules to Avaya, and an incentive compensation management application to Sun Microsystems.

But Phill Robinson, Siebel’s vice president of international marketing, dismissed Barrenechea’s claims as “ridiculous”. Commenting from Siebel’s 2002 sales kick-off meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, Robinson said: “Ask any of those companies who their system of record for CRM is, and the answer will be Siebel.”

He added that Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy is to address Siebel’s sales force at the kick-off meeting and that McNealy’s company is currently rolling out Siebel applications to 10,000 of its employees worldwide.

“These are very large companies. I suppose it’s possible that a rogue business unit somewhere within Compaq has bought a sales force automation application from Oracle. But I’m not aware of it, and Compaq is a very happy Siebel customer,” says Robinson.

As for sales to Sun Microsystems, he said: “Incentive compensation is a very small part of order management. It would be stretching semantics to a ridiculous degree to suggest that, if Sun has purchased an incentive compensation module from Oracle, that it is likely to migrate away from our CRM products.”

Nevertheless, he conceded, incentive compensation is an application that Siebel does provide itself.

The rivalry between Oracle and Siebel in the CRM space is long-standing and fierce – a fact underscored by the intense professional rivalry of the respective companies’ CEOs, Larry Ellison and Tom Siebel, a former Oracle sales executive.

Siebel dominates the CRM space, with annual revenues expected to be $1.95 billion (€2.21bn) for 2001, according to Salomon Smith Barney analyst Heather Bellini.

Meanwhile, although Oracle is newer to the market, its progress in the CRM sector has been hampered by uneven capabilities within its set of applications and a lack of sizable reference sites, say analysts.

Nevertheless, most agree that the company has made significant progress with the product set during the past 18 months. Barrenechea said that in the year to the end of May 2001, Oracle’s CRM business posted sales of $500 million (€567.6m).

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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