There’s a lot of interesting new technology in Siebel 8.1.1., which was announced this week. More important, though, the release represents the continuing roll out of a new way to think about CRM and SFA both as technologies and, more importantly, as business practice.
In addition the new release is the second release since Oracle bought Siebel and since two points make a line, presumably people like me will stop wondering when Oracle will replace Siebel with something new and of its own design. Presumably that’s already happened. If you want to replace one product with another you invest in bug fixes. This release goes deep into orienting the Siebel product for a new run in a different world.
Oracle and Siebel will continue to be known for conventional CRM, which encompasses sales, marketing and service systems. However, the company is making a concerted effort to modernize its CRM offerings with the recent introduction of a series of small CRM 2.0 (social applications). The logic goes like this: CRM isn’t going away but in a world increasingly dominated by social media and social applications, the transaction oriented applications that form the core of traditional CRM are no longer sufficient to carry the day.
To that end, and in keeping with the idea of enhancing for the future, 8.1.1 incorporates Java-based J2EE applications built on Oracle Fusion Middleware and you can see this in eSupport and eCommerce applications. Some of the first beneficiaries of this technology will be telco and public sector service and support operations.
Oracle earlier introduced a family of small applications for sales people such as a Sales Library and Sales Prospector. While these applications compete with similar products from emerging companies the benefit of the Oracle products is the fact that they have been purpose built for integrating with Oracle’s array of CRM products out of the box.
Pay attention to the loyalty application and self-service as signs of what’s new. Loyalty, for example, was previewed at OpenWorld, and already has customers using it and we look for this to be an important addition to the suite wherever churn and attrition are important—think airlines, telcos and the like.
In conjunction with the Siebel 8.1.1 release the company is bringing to market an assortment of smaller applications designed to give sales people greater access to their data and more without necessarily having to open up the laptop.
Oracle introduced a set of five so-called gadgets–all oriented toward sales–that it aims at enhancing CRM business processes. People I spoke with referred to these as the first five, as in there are more coming. The five gadgets work across CRM to include data from other sources such as social networks. The result is a richer array of information for the sales user because the information contained in one screen is more than what may be known to the company and its representatives. The information potentially includes everything that is knowable about the customer from various sources. This is the kind of 1+1=3 logic needed to compete in today’s environment.
Taking into account the enhancements to basic user functionality such as the UI, the new Social Applications and now Gadgets, in Siebel 8.1.1 it becomes clear that Oracle is out to redefine CRM for the next five to ten years. It will be a time of great challenges in business. From economic instability to demand destruction now taking place it is clear that we are at a moment of great change and our vendors (and their technology providers) will need to change with the circumstances.
At this moment and from this vantage point, only a fool would say that we now have everything we need in CRM and it is good that Oracle leaves itself open to further change with phrasing like “the first five gadgets”. No doubt we will need more.