"Customers are in control of the relationships. I think switching costs are lower than they have ever been before. I think products are commoditizing at a faster rate. I think traditional marketing is just not working. There's more and more competition. It's a great time to be a customer."
Key take away points in the discussion with Senior Vice President of Oracle CRM, Anthony Lye:
- The Oracle Engineered Systems initiative is designed to deliver single-vendor direct control over an integrated hardware and software stack in an effort to optimize hardware and software joint operation, eliminate traditional IT management tasks such as multi-vendor and multiple product compatibility issues, versioning differences and upgrade challenges, and lower total cost of ownership. While new to the current era of cloud and thin-client technologies, the effort is somewhat analogous to the 1980's IBM AS/400 era which delivered an integrated engineered stack of hardware (AS/400), operating systems (OS/400) and development tools (RPG)—and gained a reputation and market share based in large part on its reliability and stability.
- The Oracle Public Cloud has seemingly culminated Oracle's cloud strategy. Oracle Public Cloud is a ubiquitous cloud approach which supports SaaS, PaaS (Platform as a Service) and (IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service); gives customers choice in deployment by permitting on-premises installations, private clouds or public cloud deployments; supports interoperability with the customer's choice of public cloud providers including either Oracle's cloud or third parties, such as Amazon EC2 or Microsoft Azure; and allows customers portability to change their deployment to or from on premises or the cloud. Key to making the Oracle Public Cloud portable is its standards-based architecture, including standards such as Java, SQL, XML, Web Services, SOA and support for popular browsers. Not surprising though, no databases other than the Oracle database are supported.
- CRM on Demand is based on a proprietary middleware technology, so will not evolve to operate on the Oracle Public Cloud. Nonetheless, CRM on Demand already offers choice in deployment and will integrate or take advantage of both Fusion CRM or other Fusion apps and Oracle Public Cloud services.
- The Oracle Social Network was also just announced at OpenWorld and is fully integrated with Oracle Fusion apps – such as CRM, ERP, HCM and others – includes an internal social network, integration feeds with external social networks (such as Facebook and Twitter) and features such as document sharing along with collaboration and communication tools which use forums, presence, chat and web conferencing. Like the Oracle Public Cloud, the Oracle Social Network is available for on-premises or cloud deployment.
- Fusion applications now number more than 100, including complete suites such as Customer Relationship Management. With over 380,000 customers across all Oracle products, and more than 30,000 application customers, Oracle expects that existing customers will adopt Fusion apps both as part of an incremental and complimentary strategy as well as a tier 2 approach. This coexistence strategy is likely to be prevalent with legacy systems such as E-Business Suite, Siebel, JD Edwards and PeopleSoft. For example, incentive compensation is a Fusion application that may be complimentary for Siebel or other legacy customers.
- Continued CRM trends coming from Oracle will include the shift from multi-channel CRM to cross-channel CRM, increased social capabilities, improved CRM process design, a redefinition of customer lifetime value and mobility.
- Customers increasingly cross channels while communicating with their vendors, and they expect their vendors to keep up with them. Those vendors that can deliver multi-channel customer engagement will outpace those vendors who cannot. The shifting definition of customer lifetime value—from a basis of just dollars and sense—to also include customer referral value, has the implication of altering CRM strategies. Going beyond customer value calculation based on transaction value (purchase history and propensity for continued purchases), to also include referral value, will require organizations to measure, record and reward influencers as part of their CRM strategy.
- Despite the fact that Fusion CRM is available as a multi-tenant, cloud solution—as is CRM on Demand—the later CRM software will continue forward as part of the Applications Unlimited program which pledges continued investment and advancement. CRM on Demand has been the fastest growing application within Oracle for the last four years, maintains a near semi-annual release cycle, and has shown differentiation among a crowded SaaS CRM market with its vertical market solutions. These industry editions, for CRM in life sciences, automotive, insurance services and wealth management will likely separate CRM on Demand from industry competitors as well as Fusion CRM. Interestingly, Anthony notes that customers can migrate back and forth between CRM on Demand and Fusion CRM and pricing is identical.
- Despite a CRM software vendor industry that overwhelming caters to the B2B (business to business) market, the B2C (business to consumer) market may actually be larger, but less served. Oracle is somewhat uniquely bucking the market favoritism, and has acquired significant B2C market share in industries such as consumer goods, financial services, healthcare, professional services, retail, telecommunications and travel. Oracle's Siebel has become a market share leader for consumer telecommunications billing, airline loyalty programs, coffee purchases with redemption cards or your mobile phone and more.
- Market differences between B2B and B2C require different CRM approaches and CRM software solutions. B2C enterprises sell to and support significantly higher numbers of customers, and therefore, cannot communicate with them all directly. They are dependent upon CRM solutions which can automate all customer facing business processes with great efficiency. B2B companies cater to smaller numbers of customers and sell more complex solutions. To maximize their success they apply more people-oriented strategies, and therefore, need CRM systems which empower complex selling strategies and deliver greater decision support to simplify complex solutions, large buyer teams and long period sales cycles.