Clarify will target small and medium sized companies for the first time when it launches an hosted application service on Tuesday.
Tony Zingale, the customer relationship management (CRM) supplier’s president and chief executive, laid out plans for the firm’s Efrontoffice services at its user conference in San Francisco on Monday as he claimed it had overtaken Vantive as the number two CRM vendor for the first time.
Although Clarify has to date been regarded as the number three CRM supplier behind Siebel and Vantive in a three player market, Kirsten Berg-Painter, the firm’s vice president of worldwide marketing, also claimed it was now number two in both the number of licenses sold and total revenues.
"A year ago we were number three, but we have gained momentum and market share," she said, adding that Vantive's financial problems had also helped it usurp its rival’s position.
The firm also hopes to boost its position further via its new Efrontoffice Internet based hosted service, which will initially be targeted at small and medium sized businesses and provided by partner, Breakaway Solutions.
Breakaway will configure the applications to suit user requirements and fees are expected to be charged monthly, but Clarify also expects two other Application Service Providers (ASPs) to sign up by the end of the year.
Zingale said: "Rentable applications are very compelling to the mid market."
He also detailed version 8 of the company’s Efrontoffice applications suite, which is expected to ship in October. This will include an improved sales automation module that supports channel and Internet based selling, and the first phase of product integration with its recent Newtonian Software acquisition.
Newtonian develops sales software that enables users to generate proposals and carry out product cataloguing, configuration and pricing.
Version 9 of Efrontoffice is also expected by early 2000 and will enable organisations to have customers buy products over the phone or online. The release will integrate Clarify's Web based products with its call centre offerings, so that companies can track their customers and pull up historical and up to date information on them when they are on the phone - even if they have just carried out a transaction over the Internet.
But Erin Kinikin, analyst at Giga Information Group, said: "Clarify is doing a good job in focusing on its strengths in customer service and this has protected its revenues, as opposed to Vantive, which competes head to head against Siebel [in sales force automation]. But Clarify's challenge is to articulate an ecommerce vision and provide a unified story around the Web and online selling."
Judy Hodges, analyst at IDC, added that Clarify also needed a stronger back office integration story to complete the picture. "This is the single drawback for Clarify," she added.
But Rod Lehman, Clarify's director of product marketing, said this issue would be addressed by the end of the year, when the company releases connectors to popular enterprise applications, including financials, inventory and supply chain management. It also plans to sign strategic agreements with back office suppliers.
While Giga’s Kinikin said that Siebel was growing at 80 per cent per annum and was likely to maintain its market lead despite Oracle’s offensive on the CRM marketplace, she added that Clarify was growing at between 50-60 per cent per year. And some analysts also believe that Vantive, which is bringing up the rear with growth rates of 20 per cent, is an acquisition target of back office suppliers, most notably Peoplesoft.
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