eSilicon sales reps see no barrier to Oracle’s Software-as-a-Service CRM.
by Monica Mehta, February 2011
The sales representatives at eSilicon have a groundbreaking service to sell. The company is the pioneer of the Value Chain Producer model—designing, manufacturing, and productizing fully tested packaged chips. Working with eSilicon gives fabless semiconductor and system original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) a low-cost and lower-risk path to volume chip production, increasing predictability of deliveries and time-to-market advantages.
Despite strong customer adoption, eSilicon’s sales force did not have the enterprise customer relationship management (CRM) solution to keep pace with an ambitious plan to increase business and broaden the company’s global customer base. With the help of Oracle CRM On Demand, eSilicon’s enterprise applications services staff worked with the company’s sales team to overcome technology challenges and deliver a new set of capabilities. Best of all, the process of implementing the new system was fast and painless, and users are unanimous in their praise.
“Adoption has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Michael McPherson, director of sales at eSilicon. “I haven’t heard one person say anything negative about Oracle CRM On Demand.”
Replacing a Limited System
Boasting customers from the communications, computation, storage, consumer, and industrial sectors, eSilicon produces technology that has been used in everything from large servers to Apple’s iPod. With such a diverse customer base, the company needed a robust CRM system that could serve many needs
But the company’s previous CRM system required sales representatives to spend too much time entering data into customer records. And the IT department lacked a single place to gather and view comprehensive customer information—sales history, cost targets, chief competitors, and details about the customer’s decision-making process. When executives and peers needed critical sales information, representatives had to ask superusers to manually create a report and distribute it via e-mail, because the system was too technically complex for a nontechnologist to do so. Enterprise applications staff couldn’t customize the workflow of assignments and events or easily access key data that was necessary to guide the department, such as revenue figures or the status of sales campaigns.
The impact of these challenges was not limited to the sales force. When data errors occurred, the company’s enterprise applications team had to contact the supplier to request a patch. Also, the CRM system wasn’t integrated with other applications, and IT was not staffed to create custom integrations.
Most troubling, any employee with CRM access could view all customer data—sales reps could see details about chip design and chip designers could access sales information—and there was no historical audit trail about what was changed. “We couldn’t effectively and efficiently process, manage, and utilize the data to our competitive advantage previously, and simple processes were harder to do,” says McPherson. “It was a limited system.”
A Solution in the Cloud
In May 2010, eSilicon management began evaluating providers for a new CRM system—vetting solutions from Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, and Oracle CRM On Demand. Using a rating system that scored vendors according to marketing, sales, service, features, usability, implementation time, and cost, the team chose Oracle CRM On Demand for the project. “Overall, Oracle CRM On Demand was the best system that was able to address all our pain points,” says Janet Ang, senior application developer and project manager of the CRM implementation at eSilicon.
Although executives were not initially looking for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, they quickly realized that an on-demand solution scored high with their most important requirements—usability, service, and cost.
“The CRM system is served from Oracle’s data center, which means we avoid complexity, decrease maintenance, and save money,” says Ang. “No hardware, no patching, no headaches.”
Easy Implementation and Adoption
A three-person team from the enterprise applications and sales departments conducted the implementation of the system, validating, testing, and rolling it out to users within a month. Only half a day of CRM shutdown was needed to switch from the old system to Oracle CRM On Demand. The new system went live in August 2010, supporting 40 people from the sales, finance, operations, and marketing organizations and executives throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
User adoption can be a major hurdle for any new CRM system. According to AMR Research, at least 70 percent of the average CRM effort is spent on change management. The enterprise applications group and sales managers were rightfully concerned that users would reject a complicated new system. But with a three-page manual and only one hour of training, users began using the system immediately. Ang attributes the success to Oracle CRM On Demand’s neat and simple user interface. “It was easy to adopt and use, yet it still had a lot of functionality and was simple to customize,” says Ang.
After several months of working with the new system, eSilicon’s sales reps are unanimously positive about it—particularly how it has reduced the amount of data entry they have to do. “Data collection and input is what salespeople dread the most,” says Gino Skulick, vice president of worldwide sales at eSilicon. “I have received excellent feedback that this tool is highly intuitive and automated and a positive change for our organization.”
McPherson, who has worked with many CRM systems in the past, says the adoption process has been “just the opposite” of others he experienced, in which salespeople were unwilling to embrace a new, cumbersome system. He attributes their acceptance to the new system’s intuitiveness.
“Sales reps are talking about how easy it’s been to get acquainted with the software,” McPherson says. “The cars are getting through the toll gate at the bridge now, whereas with the old system, they were backed up to the maze.”
Sales and Management Benefits
Now, salespeople can get a 360-degree view of customers and pinpoint future sales opportunities. Through one interface, they can view and change information such as the customer’s purchase history, meeting notes, the status of the sales process, and the status of tasks assigned to individuals. Skulick finds sales reps to be more organized in planning sales campaigns and tracking activities now. “The increased visibility causes sales reps to act more on business opportunities, because customers are kept at the forefront of their minds,” he says.
Oracle CRM On Demand’s practical layout, easy navigation, and drop-down menus on every screen allow for quick editing, decreasing data entry time by 20 percent. McPherson says this has increased productivity. “The less time we spend manually inputting information, the more time we have to act on the information and interface with customers,” he says.
Once information is entered, users can easily create reports and share with others within the CRM interface. And when changes are made to the system, the system automatically creates an audit of when and by whom they were made. The audit trail also supports individual efforts in sales and marketing, highlighting successful strategies and increasing accountability.
Sales managers have also gained better oversight of their department’s performance. Dashboards show metrics such as the revenue funnel, projected revenue from current deals, top opportunities, top-10 customer statistics, and expected closes for opportunities. This has helped management increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales representatives.
Executives also use the system to reach untapped markets. By testing business strategies against detailed information about sales regions, industries, and accounts, executives can devise the best plans for acquiring new business. “Our goal is to close the deal and get the revenue stream for our company,” McPherson says. “Oracle CRM On Demand can help us win more business.”
Higher Productivity for Tech
Life is easier for the enterprise applications department as well. In terms of security, IT staff can now provide different levels of system access to different people, preserving the confidentiality of information and painlessly delegating tasks to interns or other users.
Productivity has also increased, as sales and marketing staff no longer rely on programmers for data entry or report creation. With customized access, superusers enter data quickly and independently. Ang used to spend hours creating e-mails for marketing campaigns. Now she can delegate the task to marketing users.
Marketing can send out campaigns faster as well. Previously, e-blasts took as many as to two days to complete; now, they take only a few minutes. And campaigns are expected to produce more leads with the additional response types, better tracking, and better analytics provided by Oracle CRM On Demand.
Another benefit of the SaaS delivery model is that Oracle automatically conducts all system updates during downtimes, completely eliminating the demanding and inefficient patching process. Also, because the software is accessible through any Web browser, users can log on remotely, as opposed to the old on-premises application. Ang can even access it from her iPhone to perform administrative tasks.
More Integrated, More Efficient
eSilicon’s enterprise applications staff is currently integrating Oracle CRM On Demand with other business systems, including Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle Hyperion performance management applications. Without integration, salespeople would have to connect to other applications to get information such as production scheduling or order tracking. With integration, they will be able to view it all in Oracle CRM On Demand.
With phase one goals for Oracle CRM On Demand already reached, eSilicon staff can now focus on application integration. As an Oracle-based company for eight years, eSilicon becomes more productive every time it integrates an Oracle solution into the system, says Skulick. “Our philosophy has always been, instead of adding people, add productivity tools that allow the current employee base to be more efficient,” he says. “I think a fuller integration of Oracle helps us move that philosophy forward.”