The future of Oracle Siebel 2017? In the clouds Dr. Manuel Breschi
In my home country there is a common saying that goes like this: “there’s no two without three”. This year I attended Oracle Open World for the third time and e-Up thanks the Siebel team for having us at their annual San Francisco Cab meeting to present, in 10 minutes, our e-Tools solution and its latest innovations.
I have been active as an IT media analyst for quite a long time now, even before I started my journey with CRM consultancy back in 2003 and surely before my entrepreneurial journey with e-Up. For this reason, and because I find it more relevant to discuss strategy and vision rather than reporting only a few facts (slides) that you can find also on other sources, this third time I will focus on a thorough analysis of what the future of Siebel looks like to me, having had also the "privilege" of experiencing first-hand the development process of Siebel CRM. This of course represent my personal opinion and vision, but during all this time and during all the Oracle events I have constantly tested the pulse of the market and gathered feedback from both customers and partners about the current scenario and also what was presented at last Oracle Open World 2016 in terms of preview for IP2017.
As all the information and analysis I will present is also the basis for our business decisions, I think it’s important for the entire market to have a clear understanding of what is going on internally in the Siebel world, and that’s what I feel as a duty to share after years of advocacy. It has not been an easy task to put all this together, but I tried structuring the contents in a sort of chapters to simplify the reading.
So, grab a tea or a coffee and sit comfortable, because I think this could be the ultimate and definitive analysis on the future of Siebel.
From 2014 into the Cloud: content from the latest IPs
Two years ago I told the Siebel community not to worry about the Cloud and to let this burden to Oracle Siebel itself, in the sense that rather than moving to other platforms to get to the Cloud ASAP, it would have made more sense to make Oracle think about an alternative path. I am happy enough to consider I made the right call, considering this Oracle event confirmed the total intention to bring Siebel onto the Cloud, to transform its infrastructure so that it is compatible with this new paradigm. As for the results of such a journey - I will cover that later, while now let’s first talk about some presented facts:
Enhanced User Experience: responsive Input fields, elastic applets, responsive tiles, New Siebel Online help. Already available in IP2016
Field Service Mobile: New theme with flow design, get route map, attach & view media, service report and invoice generation, barcode reading, electronic signature capture, connected disconnected mode. Already available in IP2016
Partner Commerce, eSales and eCustomer are now available in Open UI. Already available in IP2016
Siebel CRM Outlook Drag & Drop Add-In. Already available for all Open UI versions
Desktop Integration Siebel Agent. Some new features include CTI integration. Already available from IP2014.15+
Contact Center notifications to Siebel Call Center CTI. Already available from IP2014.16+
Application Usage Pattern Tracking (UPT). Already available from IP2015+
Siebel Tools with Workspaces. Already available from IP2015+, extended in IP2016
RESTful Integration Interface. Already available in IP2016
Siebel CRM on Oracle Public Cloud. Already available from IP2015+
Until now a long list of already delivered features; but let’s see the roadmap that was announced:
Automating Test Automation. A demo presenting a new probably Selenium-based recording/player plugin integrated in Siebel was presented. Nothing was mentioned in relation to the tracked UPT data or the new KWD views that would allow a management of the test cases and that is already available since IP2016GA.
Additional capabilities for the RESTful API. These include Open API (Swagger 2.0), validation with the ICS, content negotiation and enhancements on the REST Outbound.
Parallel development thanks to a deeper hierarchy for workspaces.
Development governance using Siebel Approval Manager. This is a new application for the management of developments, something similar to Jira, to which, in fact, it is integrated.
Finally, the “vision” for the Composer: parallel development, Metadata APIs, Unified Apps (same look and feel throughout different devices for applications), Layout Editor, Role Based development and a Flow Builder...
The IP2017 roadmap has therefore shown only developments in the technical area. On the last point only a few slides with mock-ups were presented to the public, apart from a quick demo of a JSfiddle in action to change a Siebel view. One note: there was no trace of the web tools, the promised new version of the on-premise Tools for the web and for a no-srf customization - showcased in the previous two OOWs and already published twice in development-preview mode.
During the other presentations, something around IoT was shown, but all the solutions rely on Oracle Cloud or custom developments, not on new OOB Siebel functionality.
The good takeaways
In my opinion Siebel IP2016 has represented a good evolution for Siebel CRM as a potential platform. This has been reinforced by all the points that have been shown to make the community aware of the availability of the new features, both on the front-end of the application and on the technical side.
It is also obvious that somehow there is still investment in Siebel, but the roadmap clearly showed that all is around "new" toolsets and that on the front-end of the application there is basically nothing in the pipe.
Test Automation is the new feature that has gathered the most of the support, and I was sure about it as it was well received also at the Siebel Roadshow in Utrecht (5-6 September 2016). This will hopefully allow a decrease in the time spent to test Siebel applications out there.
The customers’ and partners’ feedbacks, with numbers
The first thing one could not avoid noticing was that this year the room was not filled as the previous one: no more people standing and the space partially empty.
As in my last year article about the future of Oracle Siebel I underlined that the number of Siebel customers increased in comparison with 2014, this time the figure stayed the same, around 6000+, despite I know some big European customers are currently planning a migration to other platforms. This implies that despite new contracts – mainly outside US – were probably done, more European customers, together with the US market, are leaving in favour of other technologies. Partners and professionals in Europe have confirmed that many big names have actually started to migrate from Siebel; even huge installations with different Siebel modules very few would have thought would embrace the Cloud journey towards other applications.
An interesting fact is that, during the Oracle events, 80 to 90% of customers showed no interest in hosting their CRM platform in the Cloud. This reinforces the fact that Siebel was and probably still is the best on-premise solution available on the market for the moment, but at least for the customers that decided to remain with Siebel until now, having it on the Cloud is not a priority or a request, at all. Different perspective from some technical people that would like to see Siebel as a native SaaS application. A question raises around the on-going process to get there… but we’ll discuss this later.
Another lesson learned is that very few customers trust the last version of Siebel and this because of the number of bugs that are contained in the latest release. It is true that there is still a restricted circle of them that are going to embark in the IP2016 journey in the coming months, but now that additional innovations like Test Automation have been announced for IP2017, many of them are in the usual doubt if embarking the last release or the upcoming one…
This depicts a portrait of a very fragmented Siebel market, at the point that talking about Siebel as a unique application does not makes sense any longer.
One interesting question was asked by a European customer during the statement of direction session: “aren’t all these IPs and Patch Sets too many for a cumbersome upgrade process”?; the answer was that this approach will continue and probably get more frequent in the future. Probably they forgot Siebel is still not a native Cloud application and customers need to install patches and do upgrades.
Some partners I talked to also questioned if there is a main architect figure that defines what the design of the new releases will be.
The overall impression of the few participants to the first sessions was quite positive, in any case. Yet if people were asked what they got from the sessions, apart from the test automation part, there was no clear understanding in terms of direction, at the point that many did not even understand that the web-tools are not any longer in the pipe.
What the competition has done meanwhile…
It might not come as a surprise at this point that the first competitor of Siebel is internal: Oracle is investing extensively in its Cloud CX Suite to replace Siebel and offer an alternative to its customer base. As an Oracle gold partner, many members of e-Up attended the Oracle Cloud trainings and I did it myself. Honestly I was not so much impressed by the User Experience of version 9 and definitively not at all by the customization capabilities and that’s why we did not think it was time to go in that direction yet.
For this reason, I also took a closer look to the CX suite sessions and boots. When Tuesday morning I arrived to the Moscone West and I got to the first floor I was astonished by the number of people that were surrounding the Sales Cloud boots – really impressive. I wondered what was so special about Sales Cloud to justify such a crowd in comparison with last year.
What was shown was a live demo of the new capabilities of the incoming version 12. When I saw the User Interface and the new customization capabilities I could not believe the progress that has been made. Among other features that were presented, a new real-time drag and drop (a real one...) creation of a mobile User Interface was shown, including the definition of “if…then” business rules on the exposed fields. The synchronization capability allows a real time configuration and a disconnected mobile application is also available.
Salesforce.com, on its side, has still the best position ever, of course. Their AppExchange has allowed this company to stop trying reinventing everything by their own, but give the possibility to partners and ISVs to develop on top of their platform while they concentrated on offering end users the best possible user experience and support. Thanks to that, now they can already focus, before the competitors (spectacular was the announcement by Marc Benioff of 'Einsten', just a few hours before the keynote of Larry Ellison), on introducing new hot topics like Artificial Intelligence. They have the luxury of setting the future of CRM even with a platform that has still many limitations in terms of integrations and quite limited declarative customization capabilities. They do not care if their platform is more difficult to customize because they know that is a “problem” (or rather an opportunity) for the consultancy companies and all the ISVs that offer their own solutions on the AppExchange.
But I understand Salesforce.com is totally another universe: think about how rather than competing or try to copy ideas, they recently partnered with Workday to launch the Workday Financial Management Connector – that is real collaboration and synergy at its best.
On the other hand, last July Microsoft already announced the new Microsoft Dynamics 365 Suite. Out of the Cloud noise, Microsoft simply offered a natural evolution for their on-premise platform and they did it without any big disruption, because the same architecture and customization approach was maintained, granting an easy user adoption both for business and IT. As a matter of fact, many of the functionalities of the 2 different offers, on-premise and on-line, are already perfectly compatible with each other. Thanks to this coherent approach, recently Microsoft won HP as a customer over Salesforce.
In order to compete with the first of the class, Microsoft also recently announced the integration with their AI-powered assistant and a strategic partnership with Adobe for the Cloud. Another case of synergy rather than “do it all by yourself”.
And if Microsoft and Salesforce realized this, what about Siebel?
The “inspiration” for the future…
So, as we have seen, the roadmap shows us a total concentration on toolsets for Siebel. In this context, Web Composer as introduced in the last 3 years in development preview is… gone! You might wonder why investing so much in a technology and promising to make it production ready every year and then completely change direction. If you look at the pictures and the few slides available (visual metadata, role-based approach…) you could get an idea.
I believe (and it's not just me) there are too many similarities with the metadata visual and role-based approach of e-Tools, to consider it an innovation for the market.
But the real question should be why investing 3 full years on the future web-tools, promoting developer-preview versions at each Innovation Pack and then throw it down the drain in favour of something that is similar to what other third-party applications already offers since some years.
To be honest, it does not seem like there were many “big fishes to fry” in terms of development by Oracle Siebel, because the roadmap shows no more innovations on the functional front-end side of the application.
As a matter of fact, before attending OOW, some customers asked us to check innovations on Loyalty and other modules, but in fact there was not that much on that, except the availability of ePortal and other few applications on Open UI that is already part of 2016. On the contrary, an interesting fact, at the end of the event, a new Oracle Cloud Loyalty application was announced for the end of this year.
It might be interesting to know what made the Siebel team totally change direction for the Web Composer at the point to invest an entire year, disregard all the promises made last year and bet all the future of Siebel on it…
Siebel was successful as it embedded functional and business best practices, not because it represented a new custom development environment...
Nevertheless, here we go again, while very little has been done to make Open UI easier to adopt by the customers as the market requested and is reflected in that article.
Of the two boots about Siebel available this year at Moscone West, one was on Open UI and web composer; the other was on the Siebel applications - and very few people visited it based on the fact that nothing is on the roadmap.
So, while other vendors concentrate on making the best user experience for their customers, introducing innovative ways to move CRM into CX, apparently the development is now concentrating on completely changing not only the infrastructure of Siebel (that is certainly necessary to make Siebel a cloud-only (!) application - even if nothing was shown) but also the entire application core that, on the contrary – and here I put on my IT engineer cap – it is not required to move current Siebel onto the cloud.
In fact, “innovations” do not stop with visualizing metadata: what Oracle Siebel is trying to do is simplifying the entire Siebel datamodel and metamodel into a new flatten structure that practically will eliminate the Views and Applets layer and bring everything collapsed onto the Business Logic one… The problem is: for who is that simpler?
In this sense, other “inspiration” comes from what competitors on the Cloud like Salesforce are doing: separating the UI customization from the Business Logic layer one, at the point that the User Interface should be modifiable only by writing code (Visualforce anyone?). But, is showing a mock-up of JSFiddle the right approach? And above all, do we want Siebel's metamodel to become similar to Salesforce's one?
What concerns me, among the rest, is that on the infrastructure side nothing was presented. And that, despite still being a technical point, is really mandatory if Siebel wants to become a 100% SaaS application.
I am actually amazed (and apparently I am not the only one) by the large budget still spent by Oracle on research and development that ends up in nothing (see the famous web-tools) – for a product that is not even any longer strategic for the company.
On the other hand, at this point, I find quite disrespectful for the Siebel customers out there that are still paying every year for the support while this money is used to do mock-ups and trials that never see a real production use: things like real WYSIWYG and drag and drop that were promised last year and that I mentioned in my previous article, never really saw the light of the day in 2016 but also will never see the light in a foreseeable future (unless you want to call finished product the simulation that is available in 2016). I am sure they would like that money to be spent in better ways and now I have to admit I understand those customers that do no longer follow the current ambiguous Siebel evolution path towards the Cloud and decide to stop paying for the ever increasing Oracle support. Sorry.
All that is wrong
As I mentioned, at this very moment, it is really difficult to understand the direction of what Siebel in the cloud will look like and how you will be able to customize it, even if I clearly have some ideas... The main reason is because things are often in a mock-up status and change continuously.
The thing I know almost for certain is that those supposed 6k+ customers that remained in Siebel do not want to reinvest in trainings after a decade or two; they don’t want to get into another learning curve for their resources towards a new way to customize Siebel.
If it’s true that IT departments in corporations are shrinking in favour of external services by system integrators and consultancy companies, it is also true that professionals working on these do not care about learning new customization approaches – many Siebel professionals already had to learn Force.com, Apex, Visualforce, Microsoft Dynamicsand probably also some new Oracle Sales Cloud and Oracle Service Cloud configuration approaches, to bother restudying a new version of Siebel (that by the way offers less and less implementation and support project opportunities around).
New ways to customize Siebel
By introducing the changes I mentioned before, a new version of Siebel would be different from what we know today (and incompatible, considering the huge amount of schema changes involved).
The problem is that what I saw not only does not convince me but it’s not necessary to get Siebel to the Cloud. But probably no one cares that this will transform Siebel SaaS into an incompatible version of the on-premise one because apparently there is no future for it in Oracle.
I have always sung the praises of the Siebel metamodel: as far as I am concerned it is perfect as it is and the vast majority of Salesforce.com professionals have also a history of Siebel customization as it is today.
Getting things better (e.g. forking the repository with workspaces) is one thing, disrupting an entire tool for the sake of being “cool”, considering we are talking about a business application used by important corporations, and not a developers playground, is another.
Ok, workspaces, as a concept, are an idea that absolutely makes sense. Call it workspace or sandbox like in Salesforce or Sales Cloud, but the concept of forking the Siebel repository could and should have been done by maintaining compatibility with the previous versions. However, if you will activate the workspaces in production you won’t be able any longer to go back and your previous repositories will be unusable. That is bad.
On-premise <> On-Cloud
As I already mentioned, Microsoft Dynamics succeeds in maintaining an on-premise application and its counterpart on the Cloud, at the point that most parts of it are interchangeable.
Thinking about changing the entire core and concept of the future application towards cloud (not the infrastructure side) is a suicide mission.
But this is now a clear pattern: as ActiveX is no longer supported, the new releases will slowly stop supporting some previous features, at least until Siebel won’t be a native Cloud application.
Personally, I tend to disagree with such an approach.
Open UI is considered a finished product
Seriously? My vision would have been to concentrate on a way to simplify Open UI. I have criticized part of the implementation of Open UI but I also defended it as it was a critical update.
At the same time I pointed out the direction in an evolution of the framework and I did not see any progress. Rather than thinking about simplifying the customization of Siebel that half of the IT world already knows (even a big part that does not work any longer on Siebel) I would have concentrated my efforts on creating a “Siebel tools version” of Open UI, so that for example there would be no need to extend the same classes over and over again with so much error-prone possibilities. Maybe in this way its adoption would have been wider?
Looking at the situation closely, probably some of the new Open UI developments will simply be including successful partners’ themes out of the box, just to replicate the same business strategy.
No-srf = Cloud
Wrong. Siebel customers want a no-srf version of Siebel since 6-7 years (even before?) but it is still not a reality. I still remember when, on an implementation project, a customer was discussing this, saying it was planned and announced at Oracle Open World 2012. Doesn't this imply that probably the focus should be put on other things rather than introducing additional "inspired" changes?
After what I experienced this year, I am starting questioning if Siebel should really go to the Cloud. Very few customers want it. And let me be clear once more – one thing is making Siebel independent from SRF compilation, another is getting it to the Cloud. The general public has now associated these 2 things together, but they are actually not bounded at all. For many customers it would be perfect to have Siebel without the need to compile so they can have real-time modifications in their own premise.
Going to the Cloud implies having these capabilities, but having these capabilities does not imply Cloud. The problem stays on Oracle strategy, of course, of making every possible effort to move everything to the Cloud. And that is a dilemma for Siebel – go to the Cloud or die. But if customers do not want, why do it? That’s why at least Siebel should remain as much as possible itself in going to the Cloud – if you make it the n-th version of a Cloud solution, change its data model, the way you are going to customize it, well, everyone out there can easily take his baggage of experience and use it to go on some other platforms, most probably the most successful and supported ones.
What is Siebel Composer?
Last year, in my future of Oracle Siebel article series, I enthusiastically wrote that Siebel Composer would have gone WYSIWYG, allowing not only runtime configuration, preview & deployment but also - finally - Drag and Drop UI Design. I wrote it because that’s what OOW15 announced, just to be clear.
All this has not been really achieved in IP2016 while, at my surprise, Oracle Sales Cloud CX version 12 has introduced it quite elegantly for Mobile and, very soon, it will also do it for desktop customization. On the contrary, as you can imagine, I was not at all surprised from the new, “new” composer ideas (I was actually a bit surprised, but not for the same reason…)
Despite all developments and trials done in the last 3 years around composer, the reality is that Siebel customers out there are still working on Siebel almost the same way as 10-15 years ago, except for the Open UI piece. In this sense I am witnessing a very deep disconnection between the majority of Siebel implementations and their request and the fuzzy different scenarios of developments that are being proposed.
How shall we interpret a 3 years timeframe that brought to at least 2 or 3 turning points in terms of design with “development previews” that at this point will never become production ready? Where is the web tools? Where is the real WYSIWYG we were all waiting for? Why did it become a WTFIWYSIWYG? (you may guess what the first 3 letters stand for…). One of the most probable reasons could be that basically nothing that was announced was actually seriously considered for a production delivery. At this point I find myself in a quite difficult position considering many customers migrate their installations based on such promises.
A “total control”, isolated approach
While Oracle is trying to have a co-operative approach on the CX ecosystem with the Marketplace, similar to what Salsforce.com introduced with its AppExchange, Oracle Siebel seems to have issues in creating an ecosystem of third-party applications.
Both in Oracle Cloud and Salesforce, the creation of innovations on top of a platform is encouraged, not emulated for the desire of total control. Total control does not exist; it’s an illusion, but with illusions you don’t get anywhere.
Rather than focusing on the real business pains that Siebel customers are facing and will have to face, time and money is being invested developing things that probably partially overlaps with their own partners’ offerings; partners that are simply trying to help the entire Siebel ecosystem.
This could include replicating what other partners are developing on top of Open UI and include it out-of-the-box. Rather than trying and make a community flourish, there is an approach to scorch earth around and try to emulate everything in one big monolithic piece, without realizing that partnerships and synergies are vital for any business application to flourish.
Again, look at what Salesforce.com is still doing nowadays. Do you think its success is just due to the Cloud? Absolutely not. They did not try to do everything on their own, yet they understood the best way to elevate Salesforce.com was to go beyond the boundaries of the CRM application on the Cloud while opening their own platform and let partners develop on top of it. That’s how the AppExchange was born and has created a vital example for many other ecosystems
So you might as well blame the Cloud for the decline of Siebel in the last years, but quite surely this approach has not helped as well.
Continuous change of direction
I think I made myself clear on this point. Too much effort spent on the wrong things make this happen.
Automating Test Automation?
Yes, this is the brand. Despite Test Automation being a very good feature and expected by many customers, it is still not clear how data will be captured in Siebel in what has been shown during the presentation.
Thanks to the collaboration we brought on this year we successfully delivered the possibility of taking UPT data, transforming it into Business processes and then processing them to create automatically test cases. This process would be ready to start some serious case studies but, for some reason, rather than showcasing such a possibility to the general public, a re-interpretation of something like the selenium player as plug-in was shown. No traces of the new KWD views or the tracked UPT data.
No more developments on the front-end applications
That is it. A CRM application that does not evolve in time on its set of functionalities around CRM is destined to be outclassed by the competition. In order for customers to invest in new releases of Siebel, they want to have a clear perspective in terms of investment on CRM/CX and related applications, not on new ways to customize Siebel or “techies” stuff. That is irrelevant for the survival of Siebel.
Think about what happened to the Marketing module of Siebel. What do you think will happen to the last bastion represented by the Loyalty module, now that an Oracle Cloud version will be out?
Last but not least
To summarize, I strongly believe that for Siebel CRM to survive as a platform, different priorities should be put into the pipeline. As a matter of fact, investment in Siebel is continuing, but not where many customers think. One day the future Siebel will probably be only cloud based (at the end of the day they won’t sell any new on-premise license anymore…) and in any case it seems that current developments will impact its core, from the metadata to the way you can customize it.
Jumping the sinking ship…
In the last months many professionals and partners expressed their disconcert to us, asking why Oracle is not selling Siebel licenses to new customers anymore. This is not a circumscribed event, considering we know such kind of events happened across the globe, from continent to continent.
After some investigations, we discovered that on-premise licenses are basically not sold any longer (if not in rarely exceptions – i.e. public sector) to new prospects and if you think that partners can do it in place of Oracle… well, I am sorry, but they can’t. This is of course part of the “all for cloud, cloud for all” new Oracle strategy: only if you buy an on-compute instance of the Oracle Cloud then – of course – you can buy a Siebel license, if you like. You can actually install whatever the hell you want on the IaaS as far as they are concerned.
Another thing to notice is the constant outbound flow of key people from the Siebel team worldwide, such as David Fan and Jeroen Burgers, together with the shrinking of the Siebel professionals pool that have dedicated good part of their professional life to Siebel, often contributing with valid and essential inputs.
Also from the latest “ideas” in terms of development, my impression is that the key people that contributed in making Siebel the great CRM platform that is today have left the team since a while now. As a matter of fact, Oracle has swiped resources into the CX Cloud Suite and I have also personally met some of these developers and architects.
At this point, I am actually wondering if the real Siebel Cloud is not already represented by the new Oracle Cloud CX Suite. That is the idea of Oracle, I think. And once the market will - eventually - have two new CRM/CX applications on the Cloud (not to mention the recent acquisition of NetSuite…) competing with each other and with Siebel on-premise, what will happen?
As Steve Jobs once said:
“people don't know what they want until you show it to them”.
Well, I am really glad that e-Tools did the same in the Siebel world, at least for a potential version of the composer. Surely when we advertised that “the future of Siebel is now” thanks to e-Tools, we would have not imagined someone would have been lost in translation, changing “now” with “this”.
Unfortunately we had to take off-line many resources about e-Tools from the web; we do apologize to our customers, partners and prospects - we will soon share all the material again in a private mode.
The ‘little conflict of interest’ is that, now, as the Sean Parker character in The Social Network says in the first meeting with Mark:
“they want you to say 'thank you' while you, excuse me, wipe your chin and walk away."
e-Up will continue investing in Siebel and surely support all its customers together with all the consultancy companies that still work every day to help Siebel users in their effort to solve the real daily problems they face, and that by now Oracle ignores simply because the strategy is not in that direction. As confirmation, e-Tools already offers the possibility to extract, visualize business processes and manipulate their design flow since May 2016.
At the same time, we will also support all those Siebel customers that want to clearly understand what they have on their legacy application to facilitate a migration to another platform.
The market and even the Siebel team, implicitly, have proved that e-Tools has brought an incredible innovation in the Siebel world. But It would be much better for the Siebel ecosystem, as it happens with the Salesforce one, if a real collaboration with Partners that are still investing in the technology would take place, rather than emulating them. But is it possible? We are open to it.
As for the rest, if the new versions of Siebel composer towards the Cloud will concentrate, among other things, on fuzzy emulating some third party applications and offer some copy of JSFiddle embedded in Siebel to customize Open UI, I am afraid that name in the top picture that is now slightly covered with clouds, will finally become fuzzier and fuzzier; because the lack of a clear vision of its own will be definitively confirmed.
The same will happen if the Open UI framework won’t see a new level of abstraction to make its customization easier for the customers and manageable not only by pure web developers – that maybe don’t even know Siebel and could bring more damage to the figure (remember the glorious eScript and all the issues it has brought to numerous upgrades?).
The same if the original datamodel and metamodel of Siebel (the one that “inspired” the new generation of CRM applications, from Salesforce.com to the Oracle Cloud CX) will change to make space for something much less powerful and that will be probably surpassed even by the “nephew” Oracle Sales Cloud, that only one year ago lacked of many customization features.
This is a wake up call and probably the last I dispense, considering the way things turned up. Apart from the main technical critical issues, time and resources should be better invested on real-market needs and this is now crystal clear to me. If you really don’t know what to do, then invest in finally creating some proper documentation to help all the customers out there.
This being said, we will see what IP2017 will really look like, because apart from some mock-up, as usual, nothing of what has been shown really works at the moment, at the point that questions arise on why partners and customers should invest any longer in the Oracle Open World trip to view what the Siebel team is doing. For sure that is a way to gather feedbacks from the audience and that is probably why anything could change at any moment.
Fortunately enough, the Test Automation piece was welcomed by the audience as it was in the Utrecht Siebel Roadshow and, for this reason, even if it was released in 16.4 for e-Up to showcase it, it will probably see the light in its new version (recording plugin directly integrated into Siebel) already from the beginning of 2017. To my knowledge, customers can ask directly Oracle about that.
It’s not without some sorrow that I witness the current uncertainty of direction for the Siebel application we all know and the Oracle decision not to sell any more on-premise licenses. Maybe I am wrong and the IP2017 will mark the definite change for Siebel to start prospering again, but what I saw so far, the lack of promised features from last year and the lack of a vision of its own, makes me think differently.
I totally understand that part of this ambiguous and self-destructing behaviour is because of the Oracle strategy.
For sure, it is obvious where Oracle is really investing, considering the amazing results they obtained with the latest version 12 of their Cloud CX solution.
As far as I understand, it could even be that on-premise versions of the Cloud CX applications will appear in the future. As a matter of fact, Oracle Sales Cloud CX has now an off-line version of the mobile application available. I am sure when times will be mature enough, the CX suite will also allow a local installation - at least for the client applications. If not, Microsoft will become the first on-premise solution, simply because they are maintaining both versions of their solution without any existential doubt about “to cloud or not to cloud” (I have never seen Microsoft wasting time on this matter), because it is simply a problem that does not exist. And that is an approach that has my full endorsement. If you add the fact that Microsoft has its own database solution, the infrastructure and all possible kind of virtualizations, you get a clear picture of its position in the market.
Standing where we are, on this final quarter of 2016, Siebel customers seem very aware that unless they have a real business requirement, there is no need for them to upgrade to the last uncertain release that is promoted. That has been confirmed by the user adoption (or we should say the lack of user adoption) of innovations like Usage Pattern Tracking: among the customers present at the events, basically no one leveraged it, despite the availability of OOB OBIEE reports since last year.
As I already mentioned, the only way to convince a business in investing in CRM/CX technology is the benefits its final users would get.
What partners are developing on top of Siebel should be an independent, additional extension of a prosperous application. Not viceversa! And for Siebel CRM to have a future as a prosperous application it has to help the business users, not focusing the entire strategy on developers. Again, in this sense, Salesforce docet.
The only technical effort should be on assuring a clear and smooth transition of Siebel to the Cloud, but maintaining at least a 95% compatibility, in order to assure the availability of Siebel both on-premise and on-Cloud in a seamless way.
If extended technical paradigm changes are promoted, customers will have the impression of being under the same scheme used by many vendors: trying to push for continuous upgrades, until you will be locked into a new Cloud application that will still be called Siebel but that nothing will have to do with the Siebel on-premise you are currently using. If you ever should change your mind and want to get back to an on-premise or hybrid solution, there will be no possibility because, differently from Microsoft Dynamics, there won’t be any compatible version of Siebel on-premise, only the old – probably unsupported versions. At that point, you may always refer to third-party providers like Rimini Street or Spinnaker Support to help you out with the support and maintenance of your working Siebel application (at the end, not all were screwed at the point you really need to get rid of them). If last year I could not clearly see that perspective, now I understand it.
On a final note, e-Up is glad to announce that, while maintaining its support for Siebel, is now going to move to the next stage of its evolution and bring the innovation that e-Tools brought to the Siebel market and its powerful role-based #visuanalysis to one of the next planned platforms. I therefore leave you with a courtesy request and ask for just 10 seconds of your time to let us know which of the following platforms you would like to see supported, together with Siebel, in the coming months: