Oracle ties social, CRM, analytics products to customer experience

Oracle is bringing together its many social, analytic and CRM acquisitions under a new customer experience management product strategy.

Oracle will embark on a new product strategy that centers on customer experience management, an approach driven by the company’s many recent acquisitions.

The new approach, announced by the company Monday night, will be seen in an expansive suite that features familiar Oracle products -- such as its Fusion CRM platform -- and offerings the company recently gained through acquisitions, including FatWire, RightNow and Vitrue.

Billed as Oracle Customer Experience (CX), the suite enables businesses to respond to a market centered on the customer experience, said Anthony Lye, the company’s senior vice president of CRM.

Companies “are very aware their products are commoditizing,” Lye said in an interview last week, referring to how the Web and social media channels have empowered customers.

Customer experiences start and mature outside of CRM, and applications today need to reflect that shift, Lye said. Businesses thus need to step away from a pure CRM model, he said.

Oracle claims CX will improve customer experience management by connecting businesses with customers across Web sites and social channels. Companies can create a single, real-time view of the customer and use predictive analytics of interactions to strengthen the customer experience, Oracle said.

“Companies have to connect with their customers wherever, whenever and however they want,” Lye said. “They have to know and understand their customer.”

Lye promoted Oracle CX as a suite that will work across channels to complement the company’s applications.

A new strategy has been “cooking” for years now, but the acquisitions Oracle has made over the past two years made the time right for a “unique collaboration,” Lye said.

CX includes basic Oracle CRM solutions such as Siebel and the new Fusion Apps. It also includes the company’s MDM products, Enterprise Data Quality, Customer Hub and Product Hub.

And the suite is rounded out by the services that Oracle recently bought, transactions that created or enhanced the company’s presence in social, marketing, e-commerce and customer service.

For instance, FatWire provides tools for marketing. ATG focuses on e-commerce. And RightNow specializes in customer service.

Two recent acquisitions -- Collective Intellect and Vitrue -- gave Oracle a seat at the social table. Collective Intellect is a social intelligence program, and Vitrue is a social marketing and engagement platform.

Those acquisitions have yet to be finalized. Oracle hopes to eventually integrate the two social offerings, as well as most of the other services, into the CX suite.

CX can integrate on Oracle’s standard middleware, and can give users a lower TCO by leveraging it as a single stack on premise or as a cloud solution.

Lye deferred questions about the pricing of CX, and instead pitched Oracle’s ability to offer multiple customer experience solutions in one suite.

Businesses have struggled with the complexity of infrastructure and modern services that communicate with customers, Lye said. “They’ve struggled to pull all these things together. We’ve done that,” he said.

Stephen Powers, a research director at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., said it’s not surprising for Oracle to offer the CX suite and a related customer experience strategy.  “They’ve got CRM, ATG, FatWire. Clearly, it’s been the strategy for them,” he said.

But the challenge for Oracle, and for any other vendor that has gone on an “acquisition spree,” is to connect its many products, Powers said.

“The portfolio has to be more than the parts. They’ve got to realize the efficiencies and value of having these pieces to tie them together,” he said. “The proof is in the pudding. Adobe has done a nice job in its space with the products they’ve got. Now, Oracle has got to show it has something.”

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