San Mateo, California-based start-up Octane Software will launch itself into the front office application marketplace next week, promising more competitively priced software and implementation times half those of rival giants Siebel Systems Inc, Vantive Corp and Oracle Corp. Led by a team of former Siebel and Scopus (now Siebel Systems) executives and backed by high-tech investors Greylock, Sigma Partners and Lucent Venture Partners, Octane claims to be the first vendor in the front office application space to offer real-time, interactive and personalized customer relationship management (CRM) software. Prior to setting up the company, Octane CEO, Tim Guleri held two positions at Scopus; first as VP of product marketing and business development and then as VP of application engineering. Guleri said the idea for setting up Octane came from witnessing the sudden increase customers who were transforming into net-based companies (like Dell Computer Corp) coupled with the rapid rise of .com start- ups. Their need for front office functionality is very different from what the existing companies, Vantive, Siebel etc, can offer, he said, today’s multiple points of customer interaction and access – web, call centers and telephones – required a fresh look at the solutions space. To address the needs of these Digital 100 companies, as he calls them, Octane was founded in September 1997. Guleri said he and other executives spent the first six months in the field, carrying out consulting work and talking to around 75 potential customers. The main message he and his team gleaned was that businesses had no problem acquiring new customers, but retaining them and having the right information to up-sell and cross-sell other products was a different thing. They lacked the necessary business intelligence tools to analyze the customer data and feed it back into the marketing and sales processes. They also complained that their CRM applications weren’t flexible enough and expressed the desire to be able to adjust the software, even slightly, as business needs changed. Although he declined to give specific details about the software until closer to its launch date in March, Guleri said Octane’s application was designed to overcome these problems. Addressing the sales, marketing and support CRM environments, he said the software provides out of the box functionality, can be deployed across any, or all of the standard customer access points and comes bundled with business intelligence tools and a repository to allow for customer data analysis. Because it is written from ground up as a web-based application, Guleri said it would be simple for customers to make adjustments to the software as their business needs changed. Not the same for users of rival CRM software, he added, where it’s much harder to make changes as the vendors have had to adapt their traditional client/server based applications for use in a web environment. The sea change is that this is a net centric architecture, he said, which also makes it much easier to implement, about half or a quarter of the time it takes for traditional CRM applications. A Siebel implementation typically takes around 6 months, he added. Octane’s product will be formally launched next month and sales will be both direct and via distribution channels. The company has also signed a deal with systems integrator, Sapiens to offer its services to potential companies who need help with the installation of the software.