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Building Bridges

Process integration packs help Rackable systems connect the pieces.

by Tony Kontzer, May 2008
Rackable Systems, a leading provider of build-to-order service and storage products for large-scale data centers, is achieving significant benefits with its new customer relationship management (CRM) system that is based on a prebuilt integration between Oracle CRM On Demand (formerly Siebel CRM On Demand) and Oracle E-Business Suite. The offering is part of the Oracle Application Integration Architecture initiative, which began in 2007, to provide bridges between growing suites of business software.

 

According to Dominic Martinelli, vice president of information technology (IT) for Rackable Systems, the firm had a CRM system that wasn't linked to its existing Oracle E-Business Suite deployment, so salespeople couldn't easily access data such as account information and customer orders. The new system absolutely needed to address these challenges so that customer data seamlessly flowed between the CRM system and Oracle E-Business Suite. Oracle CRM On Demand was the logical choice for Rackable Systems after it learned that Oracle was preparing to introduce Oracle Application Integration Architecture.

Learn how Oracle Application Integration Architecture enabled Rackable Systems to deploy a CRM solution that is easy to use, easy to maintain, and easy to customize for business users. Additionally, the CRM system is completely integrated with Oracle E-Business Suite. Eight weeks after choosing Oracle CRM On Demand, Rackable Systems had its global sales force using the new application, with complete end-user adoption within one quarter.

The task of integrating disparate applications—both legacy applications and new ones from different vendors—can be a daunting one for enterprises. As new software companies have joined the Oracle fold, the company has focused on ensuring that customers can benefit from the entire portfolio of new features and functionality represented by the host of acquisitions, whether customers are already using a particular software package or are making implementation plans now.

One of Oracle's key 2007 initiatives, Oracle Application Integration Architecture, offers customers a line of process integration packs designed to bridge Oracle's growing suites of business software. What's more, the fact that Oracle Application Integration Architecture is powered by Oracle Fusion Middleware and service-oriented architecture (SOA) technology means customers will have a foundation for tackling future integration challenges.

"We're not saying, 'Hey, you need to go and take everybody that you've trained on PeopleSoft or Siebel or others and then move them all over to this new thing,'" says Jose Lazares, Oracle's vice president of applications development for Oracle Application Integration Architecture. "We recognize that it's going to be a journey. What we're doing is providing customers with value today by prebuilding integrations between our applications to support a process, and then allowing them through this architecture to effectively extend it or make changes to it to support their core business processes."

In delivering that kind of flexibility while getting the integration monkey off its customers' backs, Oracle is giving IT departments exactly what they're clamoring for.

"People are trying to reduce the cost of integration," says Bill Swanton, vice president of research for AMR Research. "A lot of them just don't like being in the integration business. They'd rather somebody else was doing it."

Real Integration Benefits

In particular, one of the initial releases—a prebuilt integration between Oracle CRM On Demand (formerly Siebel CRM On Demand) and Oracle E-Business Suite—has proven to be just the tonic Dominic Martinelli was looking for. As vice president of IT for Rackable Systems, a leading provider of build-to-order server and storage products for large-scale data center customers including Amazon.com, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, Martinelli was saddled with a customer relationship management (CRM) system that wasn't connected to the company's existing Oracle E-Business Suite deployment. Consequently, it wasn't widely adopted because salespeople couldn't easily access information such as customer orders and account data stored in Oracle E-Business Suite. Likewise, in order to get potential sales opportunities into the Oracle E-Business Suite quoting tool and product configurator, salespeople often had to manually re-enter all the customer information.

 

When Rackable Systems went looking for a new CRM system, Martinelli's No. 1 requirement was the ability to address those challenges. He was charged with ensuring that customer information flowed back and forth seamlessly, so that new leads entered in the CRM system would show up in Oracle E-Business Suite and salespeople could access data from existing customer accounts that was stored in one of the Oracle E-Business Suite modules. Once Martinelli got word that Oracle was preparing to introduce Oracle Application Integration Architecture, Oracle CRM On Demand emerged as the logical choice.

"We needed to deploy a CRM solution that would be very easy to use, very easy to maintain, and easy to customize by the business users, but one that would also be fully integrated with Oracle E-Business Suite," says Martinelli. "Oracle Application Integration Architecture was the product that would allow us to do that."

That scenario—in which a customer selects an Oracle application on the promise of easily integrating it with other Oracle products—speaks volumes about the value of Oracle's integration strategy, says AMR's Swanton.

"That's really the big benefit from Oracle Application Integration Architecture initially," Swanton says. "Customers can say, 'I can buy these additional capabilities with some very good best-in-class applications, and I can buy prepackaged integration between them. I know they'll work, and I can hold a single vendor responsible for making them work.'"

Eight weeks after selecting Siebel CRM On Demand, Rackable Systems had its global sales force up and running on the new application with full end-user adoption within a quarter. It wasn't long before Martinelli identified the processes that would be aided by the planned integration with Oracle E-Business Suite. Chief among these was the sales and marketing teams' desire for an improved ability to track leads and manage opportunities, as well as to achieve that sought-after link with Oracle E-Business Suite's quoting and configuration tools.

To Martinelli's satisfaction, the deployment team—which consisted of one Rackable Systems IT engineer working full time, one sales tool manager working full time, one database administrator working part time, and a small group from Oracle partner Intelenex—was able to achieve about 80 percent of the desired integration with the process integration pack's out-of-the-box functionality.

"We were way ahead of the game just by rolling out this solution because we're starting at that 80 percent mark rather than at zero in determining what can be done," Martinelli says.

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