Most everywhere you turn, software makers are building widgets or gadgets, those lightweight applications popularized by Google that provide virtual services such as news, weather, time, calendar or map information.
Oracle joined the gadget party Nov. 12 with Oracle CRM Gadgets for Sales, desktop gadgets that mash up data from a company's CRM system with data from the Internet to deliver current information to sales forces even when they are disconnected from the corporate network.
Once the staffer reconnects with the network, the gadgets automatically update user data, Mark Woollen, vice president of social CRM Apps at Oracle, told eWEEK. These apps were built in Adobe's AIR environment and cover search, sales contacts, top accounts, top deals and sales quotas to provide business information without requiring a sales staffer to be online.
Such gadgets are important for salespeople looking to gain a competitive advantage over rivals. The idea is that sales staffers who acquire the most current information about their clients or prospects can better execute on sales.
For Oracle, the gadgets are a way to better compete with rival Salesforce.com, which has made some social and Web 2.0 augmentations to its own platform.
Nucleus Research analyst Rebecca Wettemann noted that while successful salespeople have always used social networks to help them sell, Oracle's Social CRM provides technology to support it and a more standardized way to track it. "Integration into the CRM app itself accelerates access and makes it easy for salespeople to connect the dots," she added.
The new Oracle tool includes the My Contacts Gadget, which gives users a way to find leads, prospects or customers in social networks and other Web sites and then click to e-mail or click to call them from their Siebel CRM or Oracle CRM On Demand application. This practice saves the salesperson from juggling multiple applications, providing greater efficiency.
The Search Gadget is a desktop-based search tool to let workers search their entire Siebel CRM database or specific sub-collections of data.
A Top Accounts Gadget is interesting because it provides users a mash-up of key account data from the Siebel CRM or Oracle CRM On Demand system together with Internet-based content. For example, a Top Accounts Gadget user can tap into real-time stock quotes and relevant news feeds from Google Finance for info concerning the companies with whom they are working.
The Top Deals Gadget, as the title implies, provides sales folks with real-time insight into sales opportunities that are scheduled to close in the current period. Finally, the Sales Quota Gadget pipes current information for quarter sales pipelines, target for the quarter and the quota achieved to date for Siebel CRM users.
The sales gadgets are pre-built with integration with Oracle Contact Center On Demand, so that users can make phone calls and capture the call information directly into the CRM system, providing analysis for sales managers.
The gadgets, available now as free downloads to existing Oracle CRM customers, will work on any desktop operating system or any Web browser. The tools also support Oracle's Siebel CRM (7.7 and above) and Oracle CRM On Demand.
While the new gadgets are rooted in the desktop, Woollen said future releases of the gadgets will include browser-based capabilities and Oracle programmers are building an SDK to allow customers to build Internet gadgets of their own.