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Oracle Takes Aim at Salesforce.com: Page 2

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Business Planning, CRM Combined

Business planning has also been added to Release 18. Lye said the standard practice for business plans has been to have them written in Microsoft Word and then get lost in the files. In this new Oracle CRM release, managers can monitor how well users are performing against those plans.

Lye summarized some of the other new capabilities of Release 18: Delivering qualified leads at lower cost; enterprise-grade cloud security; network and access control; and a new "Insurance On Demand" solution for broker/producer channel management.

Release 18 also delivers enhanced lead quality, with progressive profiling and advanced data integration, allowing companies to target potential customers with more relevant messages using adaptive campaigns, and to increase conversion rates.

Over time, CRM on Demand is having more features added from the Oracle 11g database to enable such features as policy definitions, a reporting engine and better data encryption.

"DBAs can see the data when it is in the database," said Lye. "This will encrypt the data at rest to prevent administrators from seeing the data."

On the Siebel front, Siebel CRM functionality is being made more broadly available in innovation packs. Those on an earlier version of Siebel, therefore, can harness a specific function without having to upgrade everything else.

Oracle Fusion Applications

Additionally, Oracle is at the tail end of a massive five-year project to create Fusion Applications, which have integrated open standards-based middleware and the most up to date features.

"CRM forms a big part of the Fusion portfolio," said Lye. "This will be the most modern set of apps on the planet."

By taking advantage of commercially available middleware in Fusion, it becomes easy to tack on multiple features. Collaboration and social networking, for instance, can be backed into CRM without the need for heavy integration work and long-term middleware projects.

"Integration is typically the biggest investment," said Lye. "But the integration cost between one Fusion module and another Fusion module would be zero."

Fusion CRM, which will be released early next year, can be deployed on premises or on demand. Lye said some areas of a company could implement Fusion on demand while others opted for on premise. But at the same time, both would share a single database.

So does this mean that Siebel and CRM on Demand are going to disappear soon? No, said Lye. He thinks many users will leave Fusion alone and continue to deploy existing products for many years to come.

"We will continue to release Siebel CRM and CRM on Demand for their entire lifecycle," said Lye. "Our product roadmaps for these tools stretch for many years into the future."

While some will take a very cautious approach, others will begin with smaller Fusion deployments. Perhaps they will start with modules not available currently in Siebel such as territory planning. These fusion modules are designed to interface with Siebel seamlessly. Still others will rip out Siebel and install Fusion applications across the board.

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This article was originally published on September 21, 2010
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