Enterprise application and database megavendor Oracle doubled up on announcements today, preparing a new version of Siebel CRM as well as five new entries in its "Social CRM" initiative. Together, they help make the case for enterprises closing out 2008 with Oracle implementations.
Oracle's Siebel 8.1.1 is the second major release under the Siebel brand since the company's acquisition of Siebel Systems in late 2005. Following the purchase, Oracle pledged to continue supporting Siebel applications until at least 2013 via the Applications Unlimited program; this update is part of that program. Additions to Siebel CRM include:
- Fusion Middleware-based updates to Siebel Self-Service, including Siebel eSupport and Siebel eCommerce;
- Vertical-specific self-service applications for communications and public sector organizations;
- Improved multichannel capabilities with deeper search and better use of Siebel Chat;
- New customer loyalty features in Siebel Loyalty including loyalty points accrual and redemption, member services, partner management and promotion management;
- New features in Siebel Marketing for strategy and planning, multichannel response, and lead management; and
- Extended sales forecasting capabilities for cross-functional teams, deal registration capability, and an enhanced user interface for Siebel Sales.
Siebel CRM 8.1.1 has a deceptively minor version/revision number, but that's mostly a matter of timing, according to Anthony Lye, senior vice president of CRM for Oracle. "We decided to delay what was to be Siebel CRM 8.1 so that we'd be able to include much more functionality," Lye says. "It gave us time to standardize on the Oracle BI Publisher reporting engine, providing capabilities far beyond those of the current Actuate engine." Lye assures current users that the switch from Actuate to BI Publisher will be invisible and allow users to expand their capabilities.
"Now more than ever, companies need to support cost-effective CRM efforts while improving the customer experience," said Rebecca Wetteman, vice president of analysis firm Nucleus Research, in a statement. "CRM solutions that drive greater visibility into customer communication across the organization deliver both bottom-line cost savings and top-line benefits in greater customer retention and profitability."
The second Oracle announcement is the Oracle CRM Gadgets for Sales, a set of five social media-inspired desktop applications, siblings to Oracle Sales Prospector which was introduced in June. They provide secure access to enterprise application data and services, as well as deliver a productive user experience through a combination of personal information, Internet content, phone conversations, and enterprise data, according to the company.
The Oracle CRM Gadgets for Sales announced today include:
- My Contacts Gadget: search and interaction with contacts from the Siebel CRM or Oracle CRM On Demand application. Users can click-to-email and click-to-call their contacts, as well as search for contacts across multiple Internet databases and social networking sites.
- Top Accounts Gadget: a mashup of account management data from the Siebel CRM or Oracle CRM On Demand system together with Internet-based content. News concerning the user's account is accessed via equity market updates and RSS feeds, keeping a sales person informed of public events and information impacting their customers.
- Top Deals Gadget: monitor deals scheduled to close in the current reporting period.
- Search Gadget: a desktop-based search tool to search the data and content in Siebel CRM application. Users can search against the entire CRM database or specific sub-collections of data. (Available only for Siebel CRM)
- Oracle Sales Quota Gadget: supplies real-time information for current quarter sales pipeline, target for the quarter and the quota achieved to date. (Available only for Siebel CRM)
"Oracle CRM Gadgets are a standards-based way of providing CRM functionality to a wide variety of users, both those in the organization and their customers," Lye says. "Conversation and collaboration is now front and center."
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