Voice access linked with customer management

Foreseeing a huge demand, Oracle and Cisco Systems are combining technologies to provide voice-based and CRM (customer relationship management) over the internet via VoIP (voice over internet protocol), company officials said.

The Californian-based Oracle will be uniting its CRM offerings from the Oracle E-Business Suite 11i with Cisco's IP-based Cisco Intelligent Contact Manager (Cisco ICM) and the Cisco Customer Interaction Suite. The Cisco products provide the network queuing, routing, media blending, and web interaction for collaborative and chat sessions that will be required for the CRM and VoIP combination.

The Oracle/Cisco efforts will yield pre-integrated applications for multimedia and multiple-channel customer packages, company officials said. The combined technologies will result in offerings that can be accessed via phone service as well as email, web collaboration and interactive voice response (IVR), and VoIP services. The vendors are expected to also add business intelligence and reporting capabilities to the jointly developed products.

Moving CRM onto VoIP is a significant development as evidenced by Lucent Technologies' similar arrangement with Cisco, based in San Jose, said Karen Smith, a CRM analyst with Aberdeen Group, based in Boston. Voice remains an important medium to develop trust for companies and the promise of handling that function over the internet is "compelling, if they can carry it through", Smith said. CRM with VoIP will also guarantee that voice will have a future with online CRM systems, she said.

Products will become available in phases with the first stage of the integrated product solution, expected to be available during the second half of this year, officials said. Subsequent offerings will come throughout 2001. The combined products will also be delivered through systems integration partners e-Loyalty and KPMG.

Eugene Grygo is an InfoWorld senior editor.

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