Oracle Upbeat About Flows and Flowers

Sandwiched between the high-profile deployment of U.S. Marines from Camp Pendleton to the Persian Gulf and Super Bowl XXXVII mania, Oracle Corp. took over San Diego this week for its annual Oracle AppsWorld conference. While the thrust of the conference has been to update developers, partners, and users about the company's financial health, enhancements to its E-Business suite, continued integration improvements, and plans to lower total cost-of-ownership with its applications, there were some slices of CRM-related news. Monday Oracle announced Oracle Business Flow Accelerators (BFAs), designed to quickly help users address business process improvements. BFAs are the next iteration of Oracle Fast Forward Flows, the prepackaged flows that Oracle introduced two years ago to automate end-to-end, enterprisewide business processes with low-cost, low-risk implementation services. There are 26 new BFAs--18 are generic business flows that could apply to most any businesses; eight of them are industry specific (e.g., there are flows for government and telecom). Using Oracle BFAs, Oracle Consulting helped C-COR Corp., a supplier of broadband communications products and services, reduce implementation project costs by 19 percent and implementation time by three months. C-COR needed to deploy an e-business solution across three corporate divisions. Oracle Business Flows Accelerators solved and automated C-COR's immediate purchasing, accounting, manufacturing, project, and customer service needs, the company says. Oracle Consulting implemented applications packages for C-COR using a business flow approach, including Procure to Pay, Order to Cash, Call to Resolution, Accounting to Financial Reports, Project to Profit, and Design to Deploy. These flows are sold for a fixed price, which includes the cost of the software and implementation. However, if businesses also want that price to include maintenance, the flows will have to be purchased under Oracle's new All In One program, which also comprises applications. So, for example: a user can purchase a specific piece of a general ledger application or an entire BFA under the All In One program, and know the price for the software, implementation, and maintenance up front. Mark Jarvis, Oracle's senior vice president and chief marketing officer, says that BFAs will help users lower total cost-of-ownership, avoid customization, and reduce implementation costs by 30 percent. Market researcher Gartner Inc. claims that 79 percent of IT budgets are spent on managing systems. Oracle also used the conference to showcase high-profile customers. The Redwood Shores, CA-based company unveiled a big CRM-customer win in 1-800-flowers, which Oracle announced is implementing its E-Business Suite around the CRM marketing part of the application. Enzo Micali, CTO of 1-800-flowers, says the Westbury, NY-based company needed more robust campaign management features to handle its more than 10 million customers. Micali says that 1-800-flowers, which uses other Oracle products, including database, ERP, and financial applications, felt very comfortable with Oracle products and with Oracle as a partner. 1-800-flowers comprises a variety of brands and divisions, including 1-800-flowers.com; Plough and Hearth; Magic Cabin; Hearth Song; and the Popcorn Factory. The market groups within all those brands will be using Oracle CRM. The system, which is expected to help the company segment customers, select target markets, manage email campaigns, and perform campaign analysis, is expected to be up and running in the next 120 days, Micali says. He declines to provide any hard ROI figures, but says that he expects the more substantial ROI will be potential revenue growth and cost cutting in the form of new services. Micali says the company typically outsources the creation and actual execution of the emails used in the campaigns and now that will be brought in-house and handled by Oracle Email Center. Echoing a promising AMR Research report released last week on the company's projected performance this year, Jeff Henley, Oracle's CFO, in his keynote on Monday, which kicked off the annual gathering of 10,000 developers, 1,800 partners, and 175 exhibitors, said he expects Oracle's financial health to improve this year. Oracle has already started to see a slow down in the negative revenue growth that occurred over the past three quarters. Positive revenue growth is expected for Oracle's third fiscal quarter of 2003, which ends February 28, 2003. Henley also named a few anticipated high-growth areas for the company. Outsourcing (Oracle already has more than 300 applications customers using its hosting services); continued development of applications based on Linux; more enhancements to its Collaboration Suite--which since its debut last year has become the company's fastest-selling product; and ways to lower total cost-of-ownership.
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