Oracle’s approach helps enterprises make deep customer connections.
As businesses confront new economic challenges all over the world, managers are paying close attention to their customers—and how to keep them happy. Oracle customer relationship management (CRM) offers a range of products, industry expertise, and deployment options that are transforming the customer experience, including an increased emphasis on social CRM. Mark Woollen, Oracle vice president of CRM, tells Profit how Oracle is staying on the cutting edge of CRM with social networking, role-based intelligence, and prebuilt system integration.
Profit: What are some of Oracle’s new CRM capabilities, and what makes them important for our customers?
Woollen: Oracle has a wealth of very deep and broad CRM capabilities. One of the things we’re invested in is embedded analytics, and this is true for Oracle's Siebel software as well as for Oracle CRM On Demand. We offer more than just a set of data warehousing reports. The software actually contains a set of analytics that were embedded directly from user experience. So, it’s not just senior managers; it’s really people who are individual contributors—sales and customer service representatives—who have critical business intelligence [BI] embedded directly into the application. The work we do in BI in particular continues to be a big investment for us, just as we continue to invest a lot in loyalty management and self-service and other domains, because we think these types of investments are very advantageous to customers in terms of not only helping them cut costs but also helping them better retain and optimize revenue around their customer base, which is critical for the times we are in today.
Profit: What are some important first steps customers should take as they begin to think strategically about CRM?
Woollen: The number one requirement for a successful CRM project, whether it’s on premises or software as a service, is for companies to get their end users onboard early and keep them involved in the process by incorporating their feedback where it’s appropriate. Number two, executive sponsorship on all sides of the table—including the customer, the vendor, and the integration partner—is of fundamental importance. The third most important step is for companies to take the time to truly understand their specific needs. For example, an executive might ask, “How do our salespeople work? What other systems are critical for their success?” Answering even these basic questions sheds insight into the potential need for mobile CRM or critical business processes that require integration to CRM, such as order-to-cash.
Profit: What helps keep Oracle ahead of the curve in terms of delivering CRM products and services?
Woollen: One of our key advantages is our industry-driven expertise. We have a proven set of technologies that are open and standards-based, and we have been investing in world-class applications. Also, through Oracle Application Integration Architecture, we are able to deliver true out-of-the-box, end-to-end business processes. Another key element is the fact that you can have your CRM delivered on demand, on premises, or both ways through a hybrid approach. This is very valuable to a lot of companies, and we are unique in being able to offer this sort of comprehensive approach that we call “complete CRM.”
Profit: How is social networking changing the landscape of CRM?
Woollen: One of the biggest trends for our B2B customers and even more so for our B2C customers is the evolving nature of who has the most control in the customer relationship. It used to be a top-down relationship that was controlled by the companies. Now with these community-based entities that exist on the Web such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace, it’s not just customers demanding information from companies. In many cases, it’s the customers who are talking amongst themselves and asking one another for references and pricing information. Suddenly there are influences that are outside a company’s control. We think this huge change needs to be reflected in the CRM strategies and systems our customers put in place. This is why we’ve made significant investments in social CRM. Our new social CRM applications—Oracle Sales Prospector, Oracle Sales Library, and Oracle Sales Campaigns—enable communities of employees, partners, and customers to collaborate with one another flexibly yet securely. By harnessing the power of these social networks, companies can increase sales productivity and engage in conversations with their customers.