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Siebel's Pre-Oracle Plan

By Colin C. Haley     Feedback

Before Oracle's takeover bid, Siebel's CEO planned to awaken a "sleeping giant" in its product portfolio. What was it?

BOSTON -- Siebel CEO George Shaheen was on the job just five months when Oracle CEO Larry Ellison made a Godfather offer.

The decision to accept the $5.85 billion bid was an easy one, but Shaheen can't help wonder what would have happened if Oracle hadn't come calling.

"I don't think there's a person on our management team that wouldn't have liked a couple more quarters to prove our mettle," Shaheen said during a press conference here at Siebel's CustomerWorld.

Shaheen's short-term plan was to boost its revenue engine and cut costs by running a more efficient business. News that third-quarter financial results will be better than last year validate that strategy, Shaheen said.

But long-term, Shaheen wanted to emphasize the company's business analytics software, believing it would propel annual revenues from $1.4 billion to $2 billion.

"Our business analytics business was our sleeping giant," said Shaheen, who has formerly led Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and failed online grocer Webvan.

Later in the interview session, the 60-year-old executive was even more exuberant, calling the product suite his "secret ticket back to the promised land."

Siebel's business analytics software integrates data from multiple enterprise sources to help executives, managers and employees make decisions. It's used by 600 organizations worldwide, including 15 of the 25 largest U.S. corporations.

But Shaheen sees more potential, agreeing with some industry estimates that predict the market is worth up to $18 billion a year. But just because the San Mateo, Calif., company is being sold doesn't mean Shaheen's aspirations for the software are dead.

"Our product is more advanced than most and we'll continue to build it out," Shaheen said.

While Oracle is primarily focused on integrating Siebel's CRM products into its Fusion offering, IT managers there "probably already know" how valuable the business analytics software is.

"I believe [Oracle] bought a heck of an asset here," Shaheen said.

This article was originally published on October 18, 2005
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