Oracle Gets Serious About the Cloud at OpenWorld 2014

SAN FRANCISCO—Just weeks after an executive shake-up, Oracle is in the spotlight again, taking over the Moscone Center for its annual OpenWorld conference. With more than 60,000 attendees and millions more watching online, now-CTO Larry Ellison wasted no time before diving into key announcements during his Sunday night opening keynote. Ellison introduced an upgraded database platform-as-a-service solution, which allows users to move databases onto Oracle's cloud with "a single click of a button," and touted several major upgrades for Oracle's software-as-a-service solutions as well.

"We have more SaaS applications than anybody," Ellison said, calling Oracle's marketing, sales, and customer service suites the most robust on the market. In the marketing space, Ellison said the company has more customers, more applications, and more innovative technology than competitors. Out of its 84 current marketing applications, 29 are new. "We have been very busy in marketing," he said, referring to the recent slew of marketing solution acquisitions including Eloqua and Bluekai, among others. On the sales front, 14 out of the current 69 SaaS products are new, and Oracle's offerings are now second only to Salesforce.com, "a veteran with a "fifteen-year lead," Ellison said. Oracle is strong in customer service, too, he asserted, citing the addition of 14 new service apps and a heavy emphasis on field service applications. "We've been a leader in B2C service apps, but we won't stop until we're leader in B2B as well," he added.

What's New in Customer Experience

The company's customer experience SaaS offerings were on full display as CX Central, the customer experience track of the conference, kicked off on Monday. Among the key updates and improvements is a data-as-a-service solution for sales. The offering boosts sales teams' efficiency by connecting them to the Data Cloud and enabling access to crucial data. The Oracle Marketing Cloud received a makeover as well—Oracle has integrated it with Box, a cloud platform that facilitates content creation, sharing, and storage.

For the ninth release of its CX cloud suite, Oracle also revamped the social commerce capabilities for its Social Cloud and Commerce solutions. The upgraded tools promise to help customers target and segment audiences with more precision on social channels such as Facebook, and eventually drive increased brand awareness and conversion rates. Additionally, Oracle's Social Station now has modules for social relationship management, which help organizations track relationships with more agility through real-time reporting and response.

Overall, Oracle is making its commitment to becoming a leader in customer experience applications clear, executives agreed throughout the conference. "Our objective is to create a continuous connected experience that's complete, cross-channel, insightful, and tailored. That's why we offer complete customer experience solutions supporting all channels, all business processes, with insights tailored for your industry," Aaron Schidler, vice president of CRM product development at Oracle, said in a CX Central session. Digital technology is changing the way customers engage with brands, and in two years, he explained, 90 percent of customers' brand choice will be based on their digital experiences with that brand, so delivering a consistently outstanding experience at every touch point, be it a marketing, sales, or service channel, is crucial.

Customers Reach for the Cloud

The digital disruption has affected Oracle customers across industries, and most of Monday's discussions focused on case studies, as 

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