Oracle Joins the Conversation
SAN FRANCISCO — By the end of this year's five-day Oracle OpenWorld conference here, attendees at all interested in CRM tracks and sessions were sure to have been given a glimpse of Oracle's Social CRM efforts. Anthony Lye, senior vice president of Oracle CRM, presented his views of Social CRM to a standing-room-only group of attendees early in the week, then later at an "unplugged" session.
"We believe that there is a fundamental disruption in customer relationships," Lye told the crowd during the "unplugged" session. "That disruption is simple: It's a disruption dictating that customers no longer want to engage with vendors in the way they had." He went on to say that customers "want to have relationships with people like them and care more about influence and relevance. The fundamental thing they want to do is converse." Lye added that, with the advent of what Oracle and many other vendors and analysts are calling Social CRM, the conversational integration can complement traditional CRM. He suggested that the industry is entering a new realm of opportunity in which the conversation is the basis of appeal. Several of the Oracle Social CRM Applications are available for purchase as add-ons to Oracle CRM; others are still in development and were previewed at the conference.
But even as the tools reach the marketplace, the market itself still has a distance to travel, Lye said. "CRM doesn't have a clue what a conversation is," he told attendees. "Social networks have no idea what enterprise data is." Social CRM is an attempt to bridge the two, but the tools -- nad the mindset underpinning them -- represents such a departure for Oracle and other CRM vendors that Lye himself was moved to remark that the Social CRM tools are decidedly "un-Oracle."
The current state of CRM is to blame, he said. "Let's be honest: How many people in a CRM-facing job have any insight of what was sold yesterday?" he asked. "Everyone's connected to CRM, but I could be sitting next to [a salesperson] and have no idea what [he or she] did."
The three parts to the social applications include:
- Oracle Sales Prospector: Enables sales reps to gain insight about what to sell and who to sell to based on analysis and line patterns of customers with similar attributes. With mashups of data from external and internal sources, Prospector acts as a landing page, presenting and recommending deals to pursue. In addition, it allows the user/sales person to compare customers against all the companies the customer sold to. Thanks to social networking capabilities, the user can choose to message or directly contact employees who have worked with the customer in the past. The data analysis also offers the revenue potential and the estimated time-to-close. Tools available in Oracle Sales Prospector link a user to other employees and allow for visibility about projects in the organization.
- Oracle Sales Campaigns: Once a campaign is chosen, the user can take contacts from any particular source -- whether from CRM, Microsoft Outlook, or contacts saved in another email account -- and combine them directly in a "target recipient group." Additionally, the campaigns can pull contacts from networking sites such as LinkedIn and integrate those with proprietary contacts.
- Oracle Sales Library: Have a sales presentation that works? Share the wealth. In a format similar to Yahoo!'s Flickr consumer photo-sharing site, Sales Library is a collection of shared content that users can rate, tag, and comment on -- and it allows users to create templates to reuse and pull together content that has worked for colleagues.
Lye himself was quick to note the resemblance between Sales Library and Flickr. "I'm a 'fast follower.' I'm not afraid to copy what works," Lye said. "[Oracle has] tried to take what's been well received on the consumer-based Internet and leverage those technologies in the context of a relationship."
Christopher Carfi, author of the blog, The Social Customer Manifesto, writes that although Oracle has made strides in the social media arena, the focus still seems to be on vendors and salespeople. Oracle has yet to completely relinquish control to the consumer. "Technically, the tools are in place, or soon will be," he writes. "The real challenge is not a technical one. It's a social challenge. It's a humbling, or perhaps a realization, of the marketers and salespeople in large companies that, no, they really are not in control of the 'message,' whatever that is."
On that note, a recent Gartner Research report, "The Business Impact of Social Computing, 2008," authored by Adam Sarner, Nikos Drakos, and Stephen Prentice, underlines the importance of integration between social media and business processes. The authors write, "As businesses increasingly seek to strengthen their level of engagement with prospects and customers, understanding the power of communities, the multiple personas of their members, their expectations, their aspirations, and how to interact with them will become essential skills for business in the 21st century. Stronger customer relationships increase loyalty and brand recognition, and ultimately drive enhanced revenue."
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. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.
Oracle CRM On Demand Turns 18
Oracle OpenWorld '10 — Day 2: The latest version of the company's software-as-a-service application adds modules for "best-in-class" marketing and business planning as well as a preview of CRM technologies to come.
5 Years Later, Oracle's Fusion Apps Finally Near Release
Oracle OpenWorld '10 — Day 1: Kicking off its mammoth conference, Oracle makes a few hardware announcements, tackles the cloud, and sheds more light on 2011's Fusion Platform.
Oracle Finally Puts the Spotlight on Fusion Apps
Oracle OpenWorld '09, Day 4: The final conference keynote featuring CEO and Founder Larry Ellison pumps up the crowd with a few surprise guests and a sneak peak at Fusion Apps.
Oracle Reinvigorates Mobile and Social CRM Offerings
Oracle OpenWorld '09, Day 3: One executive calls Oracle CRM On Demand not only Big Red's fastest-growing software-as-a-service application, but its fastest-growing application — period.
3 Game-Changing CRM Strategies at Oracle OpenWorld
Oracle OpenWorld '09, Day 2: Executives detail Oracle's broad strategy as a systems provider, and its head of CRM delves into transforming technology at the application layer.
The New Maelstrom of Social Media
We're awash in social networking data. Do we really want our businesses drowning in it, too?
Oracle Shines Up Siebel and Social Computing
Big Red's acquired powerhouse gets a major update, and adds sales gadgets to its social initiative.
Gather the Tools for Customer Engagement
Social media is changing the face of CRM. Are you prepared?
Becoming a Beloved Company
Nuance Conversations '08: A customer-experience consultant outlines what it takes to make yourself memorable for every customer.
Social Technologies Can Save You!
Nuance Conversations '08: Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff rides the Groundswell once again.
B2B Marketers Still Hesitant to Get Social
Forrester report shows that B2B marketing, unlike its B2C counterpart, may be lax in diving into Web 2.0 business efforts.
Social Media Wants You
Eloqua Experience '08: Charlene Li, the co-author of "Groundswell" and former Forrester Research analyst, offers simple advice for taking on social media: Just do it.
Oracle Enters the Hardware Business
Oracle OpenWorld '08: Partnering with HP and Intel, the software giant introduces not one but two servers.
The Innovation Clock is Ticking
Oracle OpenWorld '08: Intel's CEO addresses the fast-paced world of computing, an extended commitment with Oracle, and Green IT.
Oracle Buzzes for the Gold
Oracle OpenWorld '08: The vendor kicks off its annual conference with a Monday keynote filled with a laundry list of announcements, strategies, and roadmaps.
Oracle Integrates CRM On Demand with Siebel
In an effort to unite on-demand and on-premises CRM, Oracle takes responsibility for product integration -- a move that looks particularly appealing for partner channel management.
Attaining Enterprise 2.0 Through 'Social CRM'
Social computing meets business value.
Big Red Gets Social
Enterprise megavendor Oracle offers a taste of its social networking-inspired on-demand applications at the Enterprise 2.0 conference.
Oracle Offers to Buy BEA Systems
On the heels of the SAP-Business Objects deal, Larry Ellison's company makes a multibillion-dollar move of its own.
Oracle Unveils Its First Fusion App
Product service and support for existing customers highlight Open World day 2, but challenges have emerged for Siebel customers' business.
Everything Is Social
The word is everywhere now: social networks, social frameworks, social platforms.