• May 2, 2003
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Oracle Draws a Mid-Market Blueprint

In this week's GigaFlash, a weekly newsletter from Forrester Research, Paul Hamerman opines on Oracle's mid-market strategy. Oracle executives recently met with the research director to share their plans for the CRM mid-market. Dubbed Oracle E-Business Suite Special Edition, the Oracle mid-market solution comes with preconfigured and integrated Oracle applications including financials, order management, purchasing, and inventory. Although still a work in progress--the plans were announced late last year--Oracle expects to test the waters with Special Edition first in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. These efforts will then be followed by a push into North America. According to Hamerman, although Oracle had a late start out of the gate--falling behind Microsoft, Siebel Systems, PeopleSoft, and others with CRM mid-market initiatives--there is still plenty of room for Oracle. "There's a lot of potential here versus a pure application vendor in that Oracle can sell its entire technology stack along with its comprehensive array of services," Hamerman says, adding that these services include hosting services as a key element. With Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison's 51 percent stake in mid-market hosting provider, NetLedger, one might question the duplication of Ellison's efforts in the hosting arena. "NetLedger is pretty far down market for Oracle, but as NetLedger comes up market and Oracle goes down market, one will cannibalize the other's business," Hamerman warns. Competitors might take aim at Oracle by pointing to what has commonly been referred to as "dummying down" enterprise software for the mid-market--a strategy often met with criticism by vendors that build mid-market solutions from the ground up. Yet, Hamerman disagrees: "Some vendors have wrongfully assumed smaller companies are unsophisticated. They shouldn't underestimate what smaller companies are looking for. They're not going to dummy down just make it easier to deploy." Additionally, Oracle is no stranger to the mid-market. "The company has had some success in selling applications to mid-market customers in the past and is looking to leverage this experience with a more focused delivery effort," Hamerman says in the weekly memo. "With the combination of its large direct sales force, a telemarketing organization, channel partners, application outsourcing, and consulting resources, Oracle may be able to make an impact in the applications mid-market as a challenger to Microsoft Business Solutions." While Hamerman could not comment on when the solutions will become generally available, he says he expects to hear some more announcements from Oracle by July. Oracle executives could not be reached for comment by press time.
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