Oracle adds collaboration, mobility to CRM On Demand

The latest release of Oracle's SaaS product features integration with Internet portals and mobile workforce enhancements.

Oracle today continued to extend Web 2.0 features to its CRM application with a number of enhancements in the 15th edition of Oracle CRM On Demand.

"It's all part of selling productivity," said Anthony Lye, senior vice president of CRM On Demand. "I think we've built something that really is quite an achievement in usability."

Oracle has reduced the click count by as much as 80% in some cases, switching from a list-based approach to a task-based approach. The release also features what Oracle calls "social CRM" enhancements -- specifically, collaboration features, including a Sticky Notes feature and a Message Center, that allow users to share information or subscribe to RSS feeds that contain information on key objects or leads, Lye said. For example, team members can subscribe to the Sticky Notes, keeping everyone up to date when there is a change to an opportunity. @48917

"What we're trying to do is make it more social and collaborative so content from Internet and intranet can be pushed into the app and pushed to the user," Lye said.

This is the 15th release of the product in four-and-a-half years, according to Oracle. The application began as Siebel CRM OnDemand, Siebel's response to the success of Salesforce.com in the on-demand marketplace that included the acquisition of Upshot. However, the product stalled in the wake of Oracle's acquisition of Siebel.

With the On Demand application out of the IBM data center, where Siebel originally had it running, and into an Oracle center, the company appears ready to re-commit. Just last month, Oracle released a single-tenant option, Lye said, and the company plans two major releases a year moving forward.

CRM vendors have focused on usability in recent releases, notably SAP in its latest CRM release and Microsoft, which will be highlighting its on-demand CRM Live application at its Convergence conference this week.

Oracle's release 15 also includes On Demand objects, allowing users to add top accounts or contacts to their personal Web portals, such as iGoogle or myYahoo!

The Mobile Sales Assistant leverages mash-up technology -- mapping, for instance -- that brings CRM functionality to an interface designed for mobile devices. The mobile functionality is designed to run on the BlackBerry wireless platform and costs $30 per user per month.

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