Siebel Systems claims to be making the first big push for full-scale customer relationship management (CRM) in key mainland industries, with its slate of about 10 large enterprise projects set to go live over the next few months. The CRM software giant expects to make a significant impact in China's pharmaceutical industry this year. It is a sector that trade reports estimate will achieve annual growth rates of 15 per cent to 18 per cent over the next five years. Siebel's most visible CRM project is with Shanghai Roche Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Swiss multinational drug firm Roche, which will have 500 staff using Siebel's ePharma application by the end of July this year. Edwin Lo, managing director for Siebel's Greater China operations, said: 'This is the first full CRM project to go live for a major company in China's pharmaceutical industry. 'We are involved in about 10 CRM projects in China that cover a range of industries such as telecommunications, banking and finance, pharmaceutical and manufacturing. 'With our flagship Siebel7 software, we have set a new standard in the CRM industry by shipping 20 industry applications that support deep segment-specific industry requirements.' Apart from Shanghai Roche, Mr Lo declined to identify the mainland firms adopting its CRM applications and the scope of the projects. He also refused to mention the cost of the Shanghai Roche project, although some industry reports have put it at US$3.8 million. Mr Lo claimed that Siebel's largest competitors - Oracle, SAP and PeopleSoft - have not made the same inroads in the mainland industries where Siebel was now undertaking key projects. However, SAP has been leveraging its leadership in enterprise resource planning software sales to China's manufacturing to push its own CRM applications to existing enterprise customers. Meanwhile, Shanghai Roche is standardising its sales and marketing efforts across the mainland on Siebel's ePharma, an application tailored for pharmaceutical and health-care companies. Mr Lo said ePharma enables pharmaceutical companies to capture every customer interaction across multiple channels including call centres, marketing and field departments, and the Web. The suite of Siebel ePharma applications includes sales, services, call centre, analytics, marketing, handheld, and wireless. Michael Xu, sales development manager for Shanghai Roche, said ePharma will provide company users with a single, multi-channel customer information management system so they can evaluate customer needs and promote relevant products. Roche is one of the world's leading research-oriented companies in the fields of pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and vitamins. Shanghai Roche claims to be the leading supplier of pharmaceutical and health-care products in China, serving major hospitals, pharmacies and channels in more than forty cities. The company presently generates its sales and marketing data from hardcopy, paper-based records held in many different departments. With Siebel's ePharma, Shanghai Roche can streamline that by creating a single repository of customer information, gathered from multiple channels and locations. It will also allow health-care sales representatives to initiate and access customer histories in real time, leading to more productive sales calls and providing timely reports. Mr Xu said: 'Siebel ePharma will bring us closer to our biggest customers, which we've identified as 270 large hospitals in China, and enhance our relationships with them across all points of contact. 'After evaluating several different e-business software vendors last year, we found Siebel ePharma provides the scalability and flexibility we need to support the evolving Chinese pharmaceutical industry.' Mr Lo said it was significant for Siebel to generate high-profile CRM projects in the mainland early because of the vast opportunities industry deregulation will bring following China's admission into the World Trade Organisation. Latest industry estimates show demand for drugs in China will create a domestic market worth US$26.37 billion by 2005. This sector is already enjoying multi-billion dollar investments from many of the world's leading drug firms like Roche, which have formed joint ventures in the mainland.