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Just One Question
Integration is a hot issue. Here's what Oracle has to say about meshing CRM with ERP.
For the rest of the November 2002 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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One of the reasons Oracle Corp. does not release a product or an upgrade with all the pomp and circumstance as competitors is, it does not want to be viewed as only a product-focused company. Instead, the company is focusing on business flows, say John Wookey, senior vice president of applications development, and Andrew Kass, vice president of CRM development. At a recent meeting with CRM magazine Senior Editor David Myron, Wookey and Kass explained how this philosophy related to Oracle's merger of its ERP and CRM groups. CRM: Six months ago Larry Ellison decided to merge Oracle's ERP and CRM groups. What was the reasoning behind it, and what was the result of the merger? John Wookey: One of the things we realized in bringing the groups together was when we took more of a business flow perspective we realized [that ERP and CRM] are pretty artificial boundaries. The great thing about CRM is that it started getting people knowledgeable and conscious of how you are managing relationships, specifically customer relationships. As you start looking at business flows you realize there aren't simple divisions anymore. And if you're going to divide, you're not going to divide around ERP and CRM. You might divide around things like sell, buy, build, service, and manage. The individual features [of a CRM/ERP product] should be built around how you support a flow either horizontally or for a specific industry. If you're trying to support a better relationship with your customers, you have to understand various things: How did you sell to them and from what marketing campaign? What was promised? How did the contracting process go? What has your service relationship been with them? Are they paying their bills? Do they have invoicing disputes? There's a whole set of relationships that blends what was ERP and CRM. Andrew Kass: Some of the specific things that Oracle has been working on are things like the business flows--getting away from selling products by feature and function. Instead, we identify a specific business process, such as fulfilling inventory.
Prior to working at Oracle I was one of the founders of Living.com and an Oracle customer. When running a company I don't care what modules I need to buy. I have inventory in a warehouse and need to take orders and ship them out and make sure they are going to the right places. And I need to manage where they get stocked in specific locations. Not only that, I need to know that information so I can show it on a Web site and have it hooked into a planning system so I can see lead times. So tell me what is the business process around this. Don't just give me software and say 'Go have fun.' Tell me much more in-depth [information] about the correct process I should run end-to-end for making this specific business activity happen, and then provide me whatever software you want and the implementation around it. But an open ended, 'tell me what you want and we'll tell you if we can build it,' is what most companies do. The problem is, most customers don't know what they want. I certainly didn't when I was an Oracle customer. I knew I wanted a system that can manage my HR, warehouse, ship products, and collect bills, but I couldn't say, 'Can I have one of those?'
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