Oracle unveils CRM strategy


15 Jun 2006

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Oracle has revealed its new customer relationship management (CRM) strategy following the completion of the Siebel acquisition, saying there will be no forced upgrades to new technology as a result of the deal.

The company reiterated its claim to be the leading CRM provider worldwide, based on the number of people using the software rather than on licences sold. “We’re the number one CRM vendor with five million live users, which for me is the best measure of success,” said John Simpson, vice-president, EMEA for CRM at Oracle.

Oracle also claims 150 million registered self-service users since the integration of Siebel was completed across the entire company as of 1 June. Oracle’s Siebel CRM is intended to form the centrepiece of the Oracle Fusion CRM Applications strategy. Oracle has begun integration of the Oracle E-Business Suite and the Siebel, PeopleSoft Enterprise and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne CRM products with a key focus on developing and enhancing end-to-end business processes.

Speaking to siliconrepublic.com, Simpson emphasised that Oracle would continue development in all of the CRM product lines gained through acquisition. “We’re going to keep investing in PeopleSoft and Siebel,” he said. “We have allocated development teams to continue to take those products forward in future versions.”

According to Simpson, Siebel and PeopleSoft customers have been reassured by this strategy because it allays concerns that the acquisitions would lead to enforced technology upgrades. “It’s not a question of rip and replace; we’re going to allow customers to protect their investment, to extend it in future versions and evolve at their own pace,” he said. “There will be no dramatic change.”

Simpson added that Oracle was also addressing the on-demand CRM model pioneered by Salesforce.com. This is where the software is hosted remotely and delivered via a web browser. There is a debate within the CRM market over the merits of the traditional on-premise model — where the software is bought and runs on servers in a company’s offices — versus the on-demand approach.

“We’ve got really good product offerings for both,” said Simpson, who admitted that Oracle was not in a dominant position in that part of the market. “I will acknowledge that another vendor has helped define the on-demand market… but we’ve overtaken them in terms of product capability.”

Simpson claimed that the two approaches fit different business models and sizes, suggesting that on-demand is more suited to smaller companies with less in-house technical expertise. Larger enterprises still favour the on-premise model, he said. “When you get to large organisations, you get some very sophisticated requirements for CRM. The hosted model doesn’t fit the bill.”

He likened the Salesforce.com concept to buying a TV by hire purchase: although it appears to be cheaper initially, after a period of time it could have been bought outright. “They may get a few headline installations in that space but the key factor for me is whether those users are still running it in five years’ time.”

By Gordon Smith