Siebel Systems said it expected to make significant investments in developing wireless application protocol (Wap) based applications over the coming fiscal year as it stormed ahead for its fiscal fourth quarter.
But the supplier, which specialises in sales force automation and other front office applications, also surprised analysts by saying it was interested in building so-called demand centred packages too.
Tom Siebel, the firm's chief executive, described 'demand chain' applications as front office packages that address customer needs, although he declined to reveal details.
But when asked whether this would represent a challenge to supply chain vendors such as i2 that have been developing applications to link customers to their suppliers in markets such as automotive, he said: "It's different...we have no intention of entering the supply chain market."
On the Wap front, however, Siebel dismissed cellular telephones and similar devices as having limited ebusiness capabilities, although he acknowledged they had significant potential for use with field sales and service packages.
"At the moment it's hard to see cellphones being used for Internet applications, but sure, field sales organisations will be early adopters for people to obtain and update information," he said.
But he added that he expected them to have an impact later in 2000, with technology advances going to the US from Europe.
For its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended 31 December, 1999, Siebel saw revenue increase by 109 per cent to $268 million. Licence sales climbed 88 per cent, while consulting and service revenue jumped 159 per cent compared with the previous year.
Net income also rose to $45 million or $0.19 from $19.9 million, exceeding the First Call analysts' consensus estimate of earnings per share of $0.15.
Siebel said: "I don't think there was a Year 2000 problem at all. We never saw it in any part of the year."
While being careful to emphasise the company's aim of maintaining its focus on sales execution, he added that the firm would also continue to ensure it maintained its dominance of the sales force automation market, which he hoped would be bolstered by new ecommerce applications.
Siebel was also able to draw comfort from rivals Clarify and Vantive's apparent distraction as they concentrated on their respective takeovers.
"I think they had their minds on other things," he said, although he was quick to point out that he expects both to come back strongly in the market this quarter.
And when asked if the numerous startup businesses in the broader customer relationship management and ebusiness space represented a threat, he said: "We partner with many of them...we're not going to war in every niche."
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