In a move that reflects an industrywide effort to build out end-to-end services, Oracle announced an option for companies to integrate the capabilities of its Oracle CRM On Demand with partner InQuira's On Demand Web self-service applications.
The combined service, which Oracle plans to offer as both an on-premises and on-demand solution, allows customers to seamlessly transition from self-service to live agent-assisted service, according to Oracle, with customer service agents receiving information from across the enterprise about customers' previous issues and actions taken.
The overall idea is to create an integrated customer service experience branching across Web, phone and social networking channels, one that also gives users access to embedded analytics.
"Enterprises are aligning their customer-centric Web and contact center strategies with their overall [enterprise] CRM strategy," Michael Maoz, an analyst for Gartner, said in a statement released by Oracle Sept. 8. "One of the most pressing needs in this area revolves around integration of knowledge solutions onto the agent desktop, and delivering that knowledge to all relevant channels. ... Additionally, to meet their various types of customer service contact center requirements, some companies are interested in more than one software delivery model such as both [on-premises] and SAAS [software as a service]."
InQuira's knowledge management software will be embedded in the Oracle CRM On Demand desktop, with InQuira's On Demand Web Self-Service application allowing customers to find data on a network pertaining to an issue at hand.
The combined platform offers authoring capabilities designed to allow organizations to continually create and update information within existing Siebel CRM or CRM On Demand desktop environments.
In addition to the enterprise, Oracle also intends the platform for medium-sized businesses.
"We've been seeing the on-demand service product do well on the lower end of the market, where there aren't scalability or security or integration concerns," Anthony Lye, senior vice president of Oracle CRM, said in an interview with eWEEK. "We're trying to ensure that we cover the customer base and provide them with solutions."
Oracle has released several new products in the wake of its rollout of Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g, which the company introduced in a high-profile presentation at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in downtown Washington on July 1.
Fusion Middleware 11g attempts to provide a prefabricated stack within which IT administrators can patch and upgrade as a whole instead of wrestling with differing elements of a fragmented environment.
Oracle also increased the prices of a handful of its database products in summer 2009, in what a few analysts saw as a play to appeal to procurement managers and build customer loyalty. Specifically, Oracle raised the prices for processor licenses for its diagnostic, tuning and database configuration management packs to around $5,000 per license.
"Nobody ever pays list price," Ray Wang, an analyst with Forrester Research, said in an interview with eWEEK. "Oracle is responding to what procurement managers are saying about how their bonuses are based on how much of a discount they receive."