by Aaron Lazenby and Margaret Terry Lindquist; additional editing by Marta Bright, May 2007
After beginning his career at Oracle, Ed Abbo joined Siebel to become a part of the development team creating Siebel's world-class customer relationship management (CRM) software. Now back at Oracle, Abbo has assumed leadership for Applications Unlimited. After the announcement of upgrades to all five of Oracle's application lines, Profit spoke with Abbo about the new release of Oracle's Siebel software and customer reactions to Applications Unlimited.
PROFIT: The latest release of Siebel Customer Relationship Management is described as transformational CRM. What does that mean?
ABBO:According to the Economist's business intelligence survey of CEOs, companies are trying to grow their businesses. For the first time in many years, growth is a higher priority than cost reduction. That's the backdrop to transformational CRM. The key to growth is pretty easy. Sell more products to existing customers and then acquire additional customers. In order to grow, you have to make your customers a lot more satisfied with your product so they buy more products from you and recommend your products to others. So transformational CRM is really about transforming your company from being very product oriented in terms of going to market, to becoming customer centric. It's about putting the customers' needs at the focal point, and then reorienting your entire company to satisfy those particular needs.
PROFIT: What new Siebel features support that goal?
ABBO: There are several exciting new capabilities that we've built into the product so that companies can deliver a superior customer experience. One of the most significant is enabling the systems to support every customer interaction so that employees can have intelligent conversations with customers. To support this, we've embedded real-time decisioning capabilities. For example, if I'm a banking customer, I walk into a branch, I deposit some money, and then I leave. That's the traditional experience. In the superior customer experience, as you're depositing that money, the system automatically informs the agent about your overall financial picture and makes a recommendation about what you should do with that money. That transforms the conversation and makes it a lot more intelligent than simply servicing the request of the customer. Embedding real-time decisioning analytics is one of the key capabilities in Siebel 8. Another great new capability is the task-based user interface. Essentially, what it does is create a directed work process for users. This helps the employee or the customer interact with the system through a guided work process. And in a similar fashion, if the agent is processing the deposit or opening an account, the system will step through the minimum amount of information needed to do that.