Oracle CRM and Business Intelligence in Two Real-World Environments
Updated · Nov 11, 2011
Each year, Oracle opens its customer doors to the press at its annual Oracle OpenWorld event. Enterprise Apps Today took advantage of the opportunity to see how Oracle’s business intelligence and customer relationship management (CRM) offerings were performing in the real world.
The business intelligence (BI) customer turned out to be storage vendor Brocade Communications Systems. Salil Durani, director of enterprise applications architecture at Brocade, was happy to discuss his experiences with Oracle business intelligence within the company. Brocade, he said, uses a wealth of Oracle applications: Oracle Master Data Management (MDM), Oracle BI, Oracle Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Oracle Identity Management (IDM).
Brocade’s acquisition of Foundry Networks caused a problem for the unified company: While Brocade sold mainly to other OEMs and to businesses, Foundry’s line of IP LAN products exposed the corporate network to a large number of IT users and consumers.
“We decided on an enterprise architecture at the back end using Oracle MDM for our Customer Data Hub,” said Durani.
Another problem was business intelligence isolation. Durani said that BI applications tended to be siloed. The service, support, financial and sales teams had BI running, mainly SAP BusinessObjects. But executives couldn’t easily integrate and correlate the data and were forced to get by using a large number of spreadsheets.
“Enterprise intelligence was zero,” said Durani. “We really needed to achieve an enterprise definition of the customer.”
His problem was how to move that state of affairs towards a unified business intelligence environment. Each line of business head was happy with his/her system and didn’t see any real reason to change. The only workable strategy was to convince C-level execs as to why it was wise to implement Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) across the company in conjunction with the MDM initiative.
One example of the limitations of the previous arrangement was in the sales arena. As Brocade sold mainly through the channel, it had to wait for point of sales (POS) data being sent in from partners or for support feedback when customers called in. But that data sat in separate databases: sales information in one system and customer support in another – nothing tied together. And in any case, Durani said the POS data from the channel was relatively poor. As a result, forecasts were little more than guesses.
Durwani decided to leave BusinessObjects running in the individual units and slowly knock it out as Oracle OBIEE was rolled out bit by bit. To date, he said, projects and procurement are on Oracle BI.
“We chose a top down implementation of OBIEE and then we map it to BusinessObjects,” he said. “As you map, you find inconsistencies.”
As OBIEE takes over more data, IT provides managers with dashboards that automatically generate the data they need. By creating common definitions, consistency is gained between departments. That opens the door to tying products to specific channel partners, finding out how much was spent in marketing to motivate them to sell that product and the overall return on investment.
“We can now see our margins much better, and determine the success of various deals,” said Durwani.
Next up, the company is working through its service department. Finance and order management will move onto OBIEE next year. Brocade continues to run Saleforce.com and has linked that data to OBIEE. Other cloud vendors feed into Oracle BI too.
What are the benefits? Durwani notes improved quality of service. As an example, he cites the fact that sales reps can see service requests and see how a particular account has been going. That enables them to ensure any ongoing issues are resolved before any face to face meetings. Cross-selling and up-selling, too, have increased.
“We are now confident enough in our data to make far more aggressive forecasts,” said Durwani.
Drew Robb is a writer who has been writing about IT, engineering, and other topics. Originating from Scotland, he currently resides in Florida. Highly skilled in rapid prototyping innovative and reliable systems. He has been an editor and professional writer full-time for more than 20 years. He works as a freelancer at Enterprise Apps Today, CIO Insight and other IT publications. He is also an editor-in chief of an international engineering journal. He enjoys solving data problems and learning abstractions that will allow for better infrastructure.