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It is with a heavy heart that I learned recently that the Oracle UK Siebel Support centre is to close. I cut my teeth on Siebel (and my IT career) at the Siebel UK support center in Egham (well, Staines when I started before Tom opened the short lived ‘Siebel Center’). I’ve known, and still know, some amazing Siebel professionals and pals who have helped Siebel customers far and wide to create amazing implementations within their organisations. Their skills and professionalism will be sorely missed. I don’t see how Oracle can hope to replace 15 years worth of industry and product knowledge and skill, but I for one am even more nervous about raising SRs than ever. I really hope the experience, knowledge and communications remain in place to support this worthy product into the future. I really do hope.

I offer my heartfelt thanks to the guys and girls who have helped to make Siebel a successful product and wish them all the very best of luck in their careers in the future. I leave you with an anecdote or two that I recall (or may have made up) from my years at Siebel Center:

Siebel Center, Egham, UK

Siebel Center, Egham, UK

When I started with Siebel, I worked at their UK office in Staines, Middlesex. The office was next to Anderson Consulting who were soon to make the world headlines of their own. I started with the Tech Support department, which meant I was issued with a desktop, rather than a laptop. Everyone laughed when I started Bootcamp and I had to lug this great big PC and monitor into the training room at ICL Beaumont – all the Professional Services guys were issued with laptops. I completed Bootcamp and made some great friends; we spent a lot of time playing MAME on the company equipment when we were meant to be learning EIM; we had a challenge to get a random phrase into our final week case study presentation. Ours was ‘Chinese Fish Liquor’. No idea why and no idea how we each managed to bring it into the presentation, but we did. One of the girls on my course managed to delete ‘SADMIN’. Her name was Nav and she was a tremendous laugh

Returning to the real world in earnest, I found that I had time to complete some online training. Dozens of courses, to be honest, earning me thousands of ‘Siebel Dollars’. Tom had authorised a ‘Siebel Store’ against which such spoils could be redeemed. As a new starter, I went mental – dozens of courses, thousands of dollars. I redeemed them in earnest: I bought my first DVD player, my first Sony Digital Camera, a 22″ flat screen TV, 2 cork screws (that I still have and use) and numerous DVD holders and Siebel branded crap. It was awesome – free stuff for learning about the most amazing tech! Then I got my wage slip – all the stuff was taxable and I OWED Tom Siebel money! I almost choked on my Siebel branded fountain pen!

Then Tom announced the creation of the monstrosity known as ‘Siebel Center’. This building still holds fort on the junction of the M25 and A30 and is a behemoth of a building of glass and concrete. We never did manage to fill that building but it was a great place to work. Tom opened the building in person, descending in a glass elevator like a tiny CRM deity, to address the gathering throng of Siebelite followers. But when the lift stopped on the first floor, confounding the man as the US have no concept of 1st and ground, and the chuckles erupted. I liked Tom though – he was a visionary and a leader and he meant well by the company and its employees.

Someone in a suit walked in to the building and stole a load of laptops from the server room. The police came, arrested them but they did a runner across the car park and got away.

The share price went from $147 to $7 after I’d invested in the Employee Stock Purchase scheme.

Someone set up a Napster client on the office network.

9/11 happened while we were in the office and we looked on in horror as events unfolded live from steaming sites.

They were good days in the main, though – great days! I met some of the most technically minded and professional people that I’d ever met (and would meet) in my career. Focused, skilful, knowledgeable – Tom said it was all about ‘customer satisfaction’ and we believed it and achieved it. We were an excellent team and committed to making Siebel the platform it deserved to be.

And then Oracle bought Siebel, I left to do something different and now everyone has left because there are cheaper ways to do things….

Okay, I have an emotional attachment and a bias to the ‘heady days’ but I think it’s a loss – a great loss of skills, commitment and loyalty to something that we all believed in. A great product that, really, is feeling a bit unloved these days.

Good luck lads and lasses – see you on the other side! πŸ™‚