Oracle Corp has outlined its view of the next phase of CRM, and formally confirmed that Siebel will form the CRM centerpiece of its next-generation Fusion applications, but said it will continue to support and develop its own and its acquired CRM products.
Anxious to stake its claim as a CRM contender, Oracle said it has 5 million live CRM users and 150 million registered self-service users using products from its CRM portfolio. The vast majority of these are Siebel users, with the balance made up of Oracle Business Suite, and former PeopleSoft and JD Edwards CRM users.
It also said it is making progress integrating the various offerings, and promised new versions of the existing CRM products. Over the course of the next 12 months, it said it plans to release Siebel 8.0, Oracle E-Business Suite CRM 12.0, Peoplesoft CRM 9.0, and JD Edwards 8.12.
It has also pledged ongoing support and development for the existing products and said it will not force customers to move to Fusion. Loic Le Guisquet, senior VP, Oracle EMEA, CRM, said he believes customers will see the benefits and move voluntarily.
Customers will want to go there. Will not push, we will offer the ability to start to use the benefits, he said, emphasizing Oracle’s conviction that the benefits can be achieved incrementally with no discontinuity. It is too early to tell what the take-up will be, so just as SAP AG is doing with its next-generation offerings, Oracle has to cross its fingers and wait.
Another thing it has in common with SAP is that is has opted for a hybrid CRM deployment strategy, combining on-premise and on-demand. It stressed that it does not see on-demand as just a tactical solution, and on-premise as its preferred option for its customers. It aims to make all its CRM applications available on-demand and on-premise. However, its on-demand operation will need a lot of work and investment because only the Siebel on-demand application has a multi-tenant architecture, a prerequisite for a successful, high-volume, on-demand offering.
As far as its CRM vision is concerned, Oracle believes a major change is underway.
It is a fundamental transformation, said Le Guisquet. You need to think about things from the point of view of being a consumer. There is a speed at which changes are occurring in terms of the expectations that customers have.
He said organizations have to be able to react and predict those changes and this is driving a change from a make and sell mode of operation to a sense and respond model of business and CRM.
The model where you make products or services and sell them is fading very quickly. Make and sell doesn’t make sense, he said. The number of customers a telco can sell to in what we might call ‘Old Europe’ is pretty much fixed so the question becomes how to increase the value of those customers and how to hold on to them. Companies need to be able to sense and respond.
Sense is the task of acquiring customer data, increasingly including real time event-based information, and analyzing it to turn it into knowledge. Response addresses the need to react quickly, with the right response delivered over the right channel. With its combination of database, CRM, and BI, Oracle said it is uniquely placed to provide the products that will enable organizations to implement its vision of the CRM future.
Oracle has had limited credibility as a CRM vendor, which is one of the reasons it needed Siebel. Its CRM strategy is embryonic, and there are questions over the business model that commits Oracle to open-ended development as well as support for multiple product lines. There are also unresolved issues over its on-demand strategy and architecture. Proof points will come when it starts delivering on its current application, integration, and Fusion promises.