Saturday, November 17, 2007

Seriously Cool: Oracle CRM OnDemand

I was at the SIIA OnDemand conference last week as was lucky enough to see Anthony Lye, SVP of Oracle's CRM Ondemand business talk about Oracle's SaaS strategy and preview some extremely cool Web 2.0/Social Networking aspects of their new release. I thought there were a couple of important take aways for me. Some of them were covered by Phil Wainewright in his blog. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed by this presentation. This was so far from what I expected from Oracle. It was refreshing and exciting news. Everyone else in the business should watch out.

Oracle: OnDemand is for the Enterprise: I found it interesting that unlike many of the large, established ISVs, Nye was very clear that for Oracle, SaaS is NOT a SMB strategy. Clearly a swipe at SAP (at least to me). It was also a not so subtle swipe at in my opinion because he was reinforcing the size of companies that are deploying Oracle CRM OnDemand, implying that most of Salesforce's clients aren't.

Web 2.0 Apps Rock: I thought that Lye was suprisingly honest that CRM really hadn't changed since Tom Siebel introduced his product over a decade ago (I don't recall how long it really is). Lye also mentioned that they realized that sales people hate CRM systems because it never actually helped them in their job...although it "solved" management's problem of projecting sales. So the CRM team re-thought their approach to the CRM application space as part of the version 14 release. That was a big driver towards providing the Web 2.0 mini-applications that he demonstrated. These applications are really targeted towards helping sales people be more effective. And OMG, these apps were way cool. Heavily borrowing certain UI elements from Apple's iPhone & Leopard OSX, Lye demonstrated how sales people could flip through various documents using an Apple 'Cover Flow' style UI. One of the cool elements was the preview technology that they had where you could mouse over a document and see a preview, no matter what the format, similar to Apple's Quick Look technology. The different applications that he showed included:

* Campaign management tool: This allowed sales people to choose from a variety of pre-developed templates for different campaigns. Besides the UI stuff mentioned above, what was cool was the addition of social tools where each sales person could vote on how useful/effective they felt each campaign was, using Technorati or Digg style ratings. Therefore the best campaigns should rise to the top and the effectiveness of the sales people should improve.
* Document sharing application: This app allowed sales people to browse through sales decks, collateral, white papers, etc. to find what they needed. Here is where the 'cover flow' and 'Quick Look' style technology was demonstrated. Again, the social "voting" capability was built in.

Mashups that Matter: Lye also talked about, but didn't demonstate how the application would allow managers to better understand the effectiveness of their sales people based on a variety of metrics that would help predict which lead should go to which sales person. It was not clear whether this is a future concept or something that's part of the new release. This Lye thought was a mashup with value, as opposed to simply providing the sales person with a Google map of the prospect/client. Lye also mentioned that they were also incorporting mashup capabilities that automatically flowed in news, press releases that were relevent to the specific client/prospect to ensure that sales people were constantly updated on what was going on with the client's business and therefore could proactively react when new opportunities arose.

Social Networking a big focus for Oracle: Related to the Web 2.0 apps that they showed, Lye also reinforced that these apps will start to find their way into many Oracle apps. In particular, the social networking aspect of the apps is part of Oracle's enterprise application strategy. Lye indicated that they are putting a lot of effort & R&D dollars around social networking.

Pods & Grids: My recollection (and my technical understanding) is a little fuzzy here, but I believe the main point is that at some point a univesal multi-tenant architecture loses performance and coupled with the fact that energy costs have doubled in the past few years, and are expected to double again in the next 5, you want to get the most out of the infrastructure you have. So they introduced a pod structure which allows you do mix and match your computing/hosting infrastructure to optimize performance and ensure that from a datacenter perspective you're maximizing the utilization of the infrastructure at all times. You can group any number of servers together to host a single instance, multiple similar clients in a MT architecture.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lye made the same presentation a day earlier stating that it is the future of CRM ondemand. The presentation that he gave was a work done by integrating crm on demand with adobe's flex tools. To get it the way he said, you have to spend lot of money for IT resources. I think that beats the whole purpose why CRM on demand was build in the first place.
I am a consumer of Oracle's (siebel) crm on demand, the product is ok but cannot play with salesforce yet. Reporting capability is weak if you are building of custom objects. In short left hand did not know what the right hand was building. I am assuming by release 16 they can compete with salesforce