• September 20, 2005
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com, Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Oracle Unveils Its First Fusion App

Proving its commitment to existing PeopleSoft customers, Oracle today unveiled its first CRM applications on Oracle Fusion middleware. The applications, or dashboards, will help managers monitor and analyze business information with Oracle Business Activity Monitoring (BAM). Oracle is continuing its assimilation of acquired brands through product support, according to a series of announcements released Tuesday at Open World. The company will make available technical support for its disparate product lines for the duration of the license.

"Our strategy in CRM is to protect, extend, and evolve," said Barbry McGann, vice president of applications strategy at Oracle, during the Oracle Open World conference in San Francisco. She also said that Oracle would protect existing applications by offering varying levels of support, from five years to a lifetime level of support. For existing PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards customers, she said, "I ask you to stay current on PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards releases. This allows you to extend your business value. By doing this you're evolving."

The PeopleSoft CRM Operational Dashboard, available in five different offerings, enables operational managers to continuously monitor performance in sales, service, order capture, help desks for IT, and help desk for human resources. The dashboards enable managers to glean insight without requiring their IT departments to run reports or query customer information.

McGann compared the dashboards to what GPS has done for transportation: "It can help self-correct, it lets you know you're off course, and provides corrective action to get back on course." The dashboards will let sales managers, for example, know how close they are to hitting their sales plans. "That will be key in each application we come out with." The dashboards are scheduled to ship by the end of the year.

The Oracle Lifetime Support Policy is the capstone on a three-tier service structure. The standard Premier Support package provides maintenance and support of Oracle technology and applications, including product updates, fixes and security alerts; tax, legal, and regulatory requirements; third-party product certifications; upgrade scripts; major product and technology releases; and technical support, for five years from their general availability. An additional fee extends this support for three years with the Extended Support package. Last, the Sustaining Support option guarantees full support, including online support tools, Oracle knowledge bases, and call center tech support, for as long as the customer maintains the license.

These benefits extend to all Oracle products, including acquisitions like J.D. Edwards World and PeopleSoft Enterprise. "Oracle's Lifetime Support Policy lets customers maximize their Oracle investment, unlock more value from their existing solutions, and puts them in control of their upgrade strategy," said Juergen Rottler, executive vice president of Oracle Support and Oracle On Demand. "Customers asked for a comprehensive, flexible support policy to cover the software life cycle, and we delivered." Interestingly, the announcement does not mention Siebel Systems products; however, company President Charles Phillips assured customers on Monday that the recent acquisition would be supported. Previously, Oracle has pledged support for PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards through until 2013 at least, and Oracle's CEO himself, Larry Ellison, last week promised to support existing Siebel products "for some time to come."

Another development may threaten Oracle's acquisition of Siebel altogether. Siebel shareholders have filed a trio of actions that claim Siebel failed to maximize shareholder value and sold to Oracle without a proper auction. These legal speed bumps could delay the takeover, or even halt it if SEC officials determine there was impropriety in the sale.

While Oracle has pledged to render ongoing service to Siebel users, another firm has emerged to challenge the company with a value proposition. Rimini Street, a startup support service vendor, has one-upped the nascent acquisition by offering maintenance contracts on Siebel software for half the price of Oracle contracts. Rimini Street was founded recently by Seth Ravin, cofounder and former president of TomorrowNow, which offers third-party support for PeopleSoft products at reduced cost. "Siebel software licensees now face additional uncertainties as a result of Oracle's pending acquisition," Ravin said. "Rimini Street will offer Siebel software licensees a credible choice of maintenance and support programs that provide significant savings--of 50 percent or more, compared to current vendor annual maintenance fees--reduce the frequency and cost of upgrades, and meet the unique business objectives of each client in the years ahead."

Related articles:
Oracle's Fused Future: Support and Interoperability
Oracle Will Buy Siebel

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