SAN FRANCISCO — It's time to truly include marketers in the CRM equation — which is why Oracle made marketing the hallmark of Oracle CRM On Demand 18, the new edition of its software-as-a-service (SaaS) CRM solution launching here this week at the company's annual Oracle OpenWorld event. Nevertheless, Oracle has also developed modules around sales performance and business planning, some of which are in the version 18 release, and some which will appear in future releases.
[Editors' Note: CRM's compendium of relevant links and coverage from Oracle OpenWorld 2010 can be found here.]
"We have used the term 'CRM' for a long time and we have talked a good game around marketing, sales, and service," said Oracle Senior Vice President of CRM Anthony Lye in an exclusive "Chalk Talk CRM" session Monday. "We have done a good job in sales, a pretty good job in service — and nothing in marketing."
Until now, Oracle CRM customers have had to go to third-party providers for full-service marketing solutions. Such solutions aren't cheap, Lye admitted, and the effort requires organizations to double up on their customer databases. "We see an opportunity and can provide a single solution for our customers," Lye argued, "for much less than customers have to pay for two independent vendors."
Lye underscored the need for marketing within sales force automation: "Customers are not looking at single sales or marketing strategies, but at a unified pipeline."
At an in-depth product roadmap session, Julie Adams, vice president of products for Oracle CRM On Demand (OCOD), pointed out that, on average, only 11 percent of leads get worked by the sales department. At the same time, salespeople are starving for leads, often complaining that marketers fail to deliver quality prospects. "The result is wasted time, effort, and money," Adams said. "The problem is, if you look at CRM SaaS solutions, the disconnect is not only at the business level but at the technology solution level, as well."
"We offer deep marketing capabilities integrated with deep sales capabilities so customers can align their funnel," Adams said.
Both Adams and Lye repeatedly argued that Salesforce.com does not offer an integrated sales and marketing solution.
Mary Wardley, vice president of CRM and enterprise applications at IDC, notes the possible impact OCOD 18 may have on the customer interaction cycle: "The latest release brings needed integration between the all-too-often-misaligned roles of marketing and sales in the leads-management process."
The Oracle CRM team pointed to its extensive research on how people actually perform their jobs. In doing so, Oracle executives say they discovered that the area of business planning is often taken on by salespeople -- but commonly left out of the CRM system.
"Typically [business plans] have been written in [Microsoft] Word and left somewhere [outside of CRM]," Lye said. OCOD 18 includes business planning modules designed to enable users to align plans with performance data and analytics, and to provide greater visibility across the enterprise.
In addition to business planning, Oracle uncovered capabilities under the category of sales performance that the company believes will help salespeople with tasks such as territory management and optimization.
"We are trying to give you the ability to get more revenue from your selling organization without increasing the costs," Lye said. "Territory management is inefficient," he argued, describing the activity as often involving spreadsheets and guesswork. Sales performance capabilities will be included in the next release of CRM On Demand as well as the first version of Fusion CRM.
Adams and Lye each provided sneak peeks into the OCOD roadmap. The CRM division, according to Adams, is releasing new versions of On Demand every six months and is giving "Innovation Packs" to further accelerate the solutions.
According to the Oracle CRM team, sales reps spend an average of 2.4 days per week on the road. Given that reality, and the fact that Microsoft estimates approximately 500 million people rely on its Microsoft Outlook offering, OCOD now enables users to access the CRM solution directly from Outlook — even on their mobile devices.
Lye referenced the industry projection that by 2013 mobile phones could easily surpass PCs as the way most people hop onto the Web. "Mobile apps were once secondary [to desktop workstations]," Lye said. "We are starting to see this thing flip."
In keeping with the recent technology demo trends, Oracle demonstrated the new OCOD capabilities on the Apple iPad tablet. "The iPad represents a significant disruption and an alternative to the PC," Lye insisted. The Oracle CRM team then presented a multichannel demonstration that unified mobile interactions with email, chat, voice, and social media.
As he has in the past, Lye — who was named one of CRM's Influential Leaders in the 2009 CRM Market Awards — spent a good deal of time imparting his vision of social technologies within CRM. Showing social activity streams that serve as collaboration mechanisms within an enterprise, Lye emphasized the need for ubiquity. "Collaboration itself isn't constrained to a selling organization," he said. "It's important for that collaboration to be ubiquitous.… All parts [of the enterprise] must be enabled by the technology."
In a demonstration of an activity stream, a salesperson was able to connect with a colleague over a shared document, and even dig into that person's "HR profile" (resembling a social network profile).
Lye also introduced what he calls the "new customer lifetime value," saying that no longer can customers just be measured by dollars and cents. Oracle's view of customer lifetime value, he said, now includes influence and such metrics as customer referral value and customer transaction value.
"It's critical to understand a profile of a customer not just on the inside of your organization, but on the outside," Lye said. By depicting a customer's social network, a company can determine such metrics as the degree of influence about a given topic. "Now it's important to indicate relevance," he noted, "and include people who document or discuss a product or service in positive or negative way."
OCOD 18 continues the company's efforts with industry-specific editions. Just as Release 17 included a focus on Pharma and Life Sciences, OCOD 18 introduces the company's CRM solution for the insurance industry.
News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine.
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