Siebel Readies On-Demand CRM For Foreign Markets

It has configured the product to operate in seven languages other than English and deal with multiple currencies and date formats.
Siebel Systems Inc. says its on-demand customer-relationship-management offering has delivered on one of the key impacts that was expected from it: It's letting customers start slow before they work their way toward larger on-premises CRM deployments. But the on-demand product has had a significant limitation in that for the most part it's been available only to U.S. customers, which represent just half of Siebel's business.

That's about to change, as Siebel prepares to launch an international version of Siebel CRM On-Demand, on-demand group VP Keith Raffel told InformationWeek this week. The company has configured the service to operate in seven additional languages, process transactions in multiple currencies, and be able to read the variety of date formats used overseas. No date has been set for the launch, but the international product is expected to be available in the next several weeks, Raffel says.

Siebel is making the move even though on-demand products have been slower to take hold outside of the United States for various reasons. In Europe, privacy concerns have contributed to a reluctance to use on-demand services. The European Union has stringent restrictions on the movement of data on European consumers outside the United States, and Siebel's on-demand CRM is hosted at an IBM data center in Colorado. But Raffel points out that a handful of Siebel's international customers have been using the service, either because they made specific requests or because it was made available through partnerships with companies such as IBM and British Telecom.

He says larger companies that operate internationally have expressed interest in having access to an on-demand service that can accommodate multiple languages, and that small companies with fewer than 200 CRM users also are a primary target. Still, Raffel doesn't expect the product to get the kind of market reception it's gotten here. He says the goal is to match Siebel's on-premises sales by generating 50% of its on-demand business overseas, but that's not something that can be achieved quickly, particularly in countries where the telecom infrastructure is spotty, resulting in unreliable Internet connections.

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