Oracle SVP of CRM Products Outlines Integration Plans

Ed Abbo, senior vice president of CRM products at Oracle, is at work on a strategy to bridge front and back office applications.

After a dozen years spent building out Siebel Systems customer relationship management functionality—work, in part, that led Siebel to dominate its industry for nearly a decade—Ed Abbo is once again mired in developing CRM functionally.

Abbo, now the senior vice president of CRM products at Oracle, which acquired Siebel for $5.85 on Jan. 31, is focused on developing a strategic plan for Oracle CRM on-premises and on-demand software—no small task given Oracle has acquired about 20 companies in the past two years, a half dozen of which fall under Abbos domain.

That said, Abbo has his work cut out for him. From the start, Oracle has said it will standardize on Siebels CRM technology as the basis for its next-generation Fusion CRM suite of applications.

Based on the Oracle E-Business Suite, Fusion brings in the best of functionality from Oracles PeopleSoft and JD Edwards acquisitions.

Oracle is also standardizing on Siebel CRM On Demand. Given those parameters, Abbo, who is responsible for CRM strategy and application development, has pounded out three development initiatives he hopes will differentiate Oracles CRM offerings from the competition, which is primarily SAP AG and any pure play CRM vendors left standing.

Abbos plans include: a suite of verticalized front-end CRM applications integrated with back office ERP (enterprise resource planning) and retail applications from Oracle; roles-based analytic applications extended to back office workers; and Siebel CRM On Demand applications that are "available" to Oracles various ERP applications.

The industry-specific applications, due later this year, will look to capitalize on the 20-plus industries that Oracle builds out products for (or has acquired companies that have industry-specific functionality) including such areas as retail, banking, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals.

"What we are doing is essentially delivering customer-centric industry solutions that contemplate interaction with the customer and brings in supporting functionality," said Abbo, in Redwood Shores, Calif. "Its integrations between Siebel, PeopleSoft, Oracle E-Business, Retek and iFlex."

(Retek and iFlex are two retail companies Oracle acquired in March and August 2005, respectively.)

The roles-based analytic applications, available throughout 2006, will seek to allow different people in a company to track how theyre doing against defined company metrics.

"What we are doing is we have built out a set of applications that allow [users] to track how theyre doing against metrics, specific to each role in the company and offering analytics around that," said Abbo. "Then were extending that from mid to back office as well."

Abbo gives the example of a recent experience he had ordering a product online. It took a long time to get to him. While the front office workers in the customer service center interacted directly with Abbo, they were not necessarily the people responsible for getting the product off the shelf and in the mail.

"The idea is those people [who are responsible for fulfillment for example] ought to understand the impact on customers if they dont get something done," said Abbo.

Then theres on demand. While the debate rages among vendors, primarily, as to whether software should be delivered purely as a service, or on premises, Oracle is taking the road traveled by its competitor, SAP, by offering a combination of both options.

/zimages/3/28571.gifSAP offers cut-rate support for Oracle apps. Click here to read more.

To accomplish this, Abbo is working on integrating Siebel CRM On Demand and contact center applications with E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft applications.

Dispelling the notion that on-demand applications need to be built from the bottom up to accommodate that delivery model, Abbo said that the approach to integrating on-demand with on-premises applications is "vastly facilitated through Web services and XML messaging," he said.

Theres one other piece of technology Abbo is dealing with: Project Nexus, which was Siebels answer to a middleware platform and the equivalent of the Oracle Fusion Middleware platform that Fusion Applications will sit on top of.

Nexus, according to Abbo, is being merged so that it "appears to be part of CRM," with concepts from Nexus integrated into Fusion CRM.

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