In the summer of 2005, Equifax, a global provider of data, analytics, and technology solutions, decided to invest in a sales force automation system for its Latin American businesses. They would have been happy with a single, regionally focused tool to replace its existing systems, but Tripp Partain, CIO of global corporate platforms for the Atlanta, Georgia-based company, was thinking about future applications. "I worked with our business leaders in Latin America to help tick up their valuation process, to make it more of an enterprise evaluation process," Partain says. He adds that Equifax started looking at Oracle's Siebel CRM On Demand for sales force automation in part because Oracle's solution could support Equifax for years.
As much as he wanted the system to grow with Equifax, Partain didn't want too much too soon. He was concerned that managers' requests for features could choke out the benefits of sales force automation. "It is a very robust tool set, but it doesn't have the kitchen sink in it so that it can be rapidly deployed, adopted quickly by users, and quickly leveraged," he says. "From an IT standpoint, that's a good thing. There's only so much creep that can occur. You understand what you're going to get, and that can make a project implementation more successful."
But at the same time, Oracle offered future flexibility. Should Equifax need a custom solution in the future, or if it eventually makes sense for the company to move the system in-house, the Siebel system can do that. "From an enterprise IT standpoint, I didn't want this to be a point solution," Partain says. "At some point, we're going to have a total, end-to-end CRM [customer relationship management] system. It won't be just sales force automation but also service and call center and contract administration with analytics around all of that data and the full customer 360-degree view. With Siebel CRM On Demand, the CRM solution was built and based on the exact same database structure and schema as the on-premise application from Siebel, so we have the ability to more easily convert," Partain says.
"It's positioned to take the next step whenever we're ready. That's No. 1," says Partain. "No. 2, Oracle is already working on hybrid solutions. You can have a blended environment where some pieces are still in the on-demand world, while some pieces are internal in your world. There are prebuilt Web services with the ability to export and import the data back and forth. From my standpoint, I was able to solve my immediate business problem and make a sound decision that will position us even better for the move we'll make two or three years from now."
In Latin America, the Siebel CRM On Demand system replaced a variety of sales-tracking tools. Some country offices used Siebel already; some used Lotus Notes or spreadsheet-based systems; and a few still had paper files. The regional business leader wanted to achieve a consistent collection of the data that would determine how Equifax would grow there.
"One of the benefits of outsourcing was speed, so of course we decided right out of the box to put that in test," Partain says. The goal: 500 users in 50 days. "We made the decision in the summer; by Labor Day, we were live in four countries with 500 users," he says. "Between Labor Day and February 2006, we completed the final two countries—the last intentionally going later because it was the one coming from an existing Siebel installation that had the most data for us to convert."