• December 1, 2012
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Oracle Expands in Social and the Cloud

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Oracle customers now have more cloud and social media options. That was CEO Larry Ellison's main point during his keynote speech at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco in October. He told a crowd of 50,000 that most of Oracle's cloud-based apps are being enhanced with social capabilities.

Furthermore, social media applications, particularly those for listening and customer engagement, will be key to Oracle's CX Suite, its marketing, sales, commerce, and customer service portfolio.

The central component of Oracle's social strategy is the Social Relationship Management Platform. It includes four key elements: Oracle Social Network, for internal collaboration; Oracle Social Engagement and Monitoring; Oracle Social Marketing; and Oracle Social Data and Insight, which aggregates updated information from enterprise, social, and external sources to ensure that customer and prospect contact data is current.

According to Abhay Parasnis, senior vice president of the Oracle Cloud, the Oracle Social Relationship Management Platform is a response to what he sees as customers' demand to be able to standardize their social media activities onto one platform and bring all their disparate applications together.

Jon Carroll, CEO of Services Council, said his company found that global corporations are struggling to manage an average of 178 business-related social media accounts.

Adding to the complexity is the sheer volume of information that passes through social channels. Routinely, 1.43 billion people worldwide log into social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, according to statistics presented at OpenWorld. In the United States, 79 percent of adults have a profile on at least one social site; 42 percent have mentioned a brand in their status updates; 58 percent have "liked" brands on Facebook; 39 percent have posted tweets about brands to Twitter; and 51 percent have followed brands on Twitter.

Almost 20 percent have used social media to access customer service. This is particularly challenging, as social media information is unstructured. Social data is five to seven times more prolific than structured data, and growing three times as fast, said Thomas Kurian, Oracle senior vice president of product development.

The addition of social media capabilities weren't the only announcements related to Oracle's cloud offerings. Though a relative newcomer to the cloud, Oracle is already claiming a leadership position. Ellison said his company now "has more [cloud-based] applications than any other vendor."

Oracle's application suite, marketed under the Fusion bundle, has already been adopted by hundreds of companies.

To help companies that are still skeptical about adopting the cloud model, Ellison officially introduced the Oracle Private Cloud, which allows customers to store some of their most sensitive data behind their own firewalls while maintaining all the benefits of a cloud deployment. With that offering, Oracle customers can now deploy solutions in the cloud, on premises, or both.

At the conference, Oracle released a number of cloud-based apps, including applications for social media management, planning and budgeting, financial reporting, software development, storage, and messaging.

"Cloud is a strategic business at Oracle and growing aggressively. The breadth of opportunities…already exceeds anything else available in the industry. With the introduction of these new services, Oracle continues to…define the future of cloud-based services," Parasnis said.

Oracle also launched an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering, in which users outsource equipment that is maintained by an outside service provider. Ellison said IaaS complements Oracle's existing cloud-based software and platform offerings. "Customers, to fully embrace cloud computing, need all three layers of service."

"Oracle is the only company to offer all three," Mark Hurd, Oracle's president, stressed. "Oracle is the only vendor that can give customers the complete stack of hardware and software."

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