As soon as Scott Fenton took over as CIO of Wind River Systems, in August 2006, problems related to the company's poorly integrated applications became crystal clear. Every employee he talked to had the same top concern: the sorry state of customer information.
"The complaints and the issues were about anything from massive amounts of duplicate data to quality associated with the data that was there," says Fenton. "It really had a significant impact on our business operations and order-to-cash process."
That impact was felt in many ways. Salespeople couldn't always get an accurate rundown on what products a customer owned. Customer data in general was undependable. Some orders were being shipped incorrectly, due to inaccurate customer addresses. Orders weren't being properly transmitted from the company's Siebel CRM system to its Oracle E-Business Suite instance, creating massive amounts of manual data input and reconciliation and, sometimes, dropped orders. And critical sales reports were being generated manually, which involved assembling information acquired via e-mail, creating Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and then e-mailing those out, a process that often took days.
It wasn't long before Fenton formulated a three-step blueprint for solving the problems. A thorough data cleansing would be complemented by an upgrade of Wind River's outdated Siebel CRM implementation, from Release 6.3 to Release 7.8, and improved integration between the Siebel software and Oracle E-Business Suite. For the latter, Wind River would rely on Oracle Fusion Middleware, Oracle SOA Suite, and Oracle Customer Data Hub. It was a plan that required the heavy involvement of business leaders.
"These weren't IT projects; they were projects in which IT was working with the business side on rollout and implementation," says Fenton. Each part of the project had a business sponsor from the executive team and a commitment of staff resources from the business side.
Being armed with better customer data and a new Siebel implementation wasn't going to deliver the needed benefits without strong integration. The Oracle Fusion Middleware components enabled that to happen. Siebel CRM has become the de facto interface for the sales staff, and any new leads or opportunities entered are immediately synced with Oracle E-Business Suite via the customer data hub. The deployment is still too fresh to have yielded quantifiable results, but Fenton reports customer records that are cleaner than ever, an entirely streamlined order-to-cash process, and a massive reduction in data duplication.
Wind River is taking further advantage of the Siebel CRM integration with Oracle E-Business Suite by rolling out Oracle Business Intelligence, which will help it turn those clunky reports created in Microsoft Excel into Web-based dashboards updated in real time via the integration with Oracle E-Business Suite.
With a key integration effort under his staff's belt, Fenton has plans to build on that success. For instance, he'd like to tie in some of the company's other applications, such as customer online support, teleservices, and a knowledge management app that provides customers with access to a searchable knowledgebase. Says Fenton, "Integration and business intelligence are, for me, the key technologies for the next 12 to 24 months."
And why not? Wind River has the building blocks it needs for refreshing inefficient business processes with the introduction of new technologies that can tap the power of the company's Oracle SOA Suite.
"It opens up so many doors," says Fenton. "The basic foundation for the house is there, and we feel that we can add on as many rooms and levels as technology permits.
For More Information
Oracle Fusion Middleware Oracle SOA Suite Tony Kontzer is a business and technology writer in Silicon Valley who has contributed to InformationWeek, Investor's Business Daily, CIO Insight, and Network World.